Elgin woman joins mission to advocate for victims of human trafficking at U.S. Capitol
Elgin, IL (June 25, 2014) -- Elgin resident Colleen Anderson returned home late Tuesday evening from Washington D.C. after meetings with the Illinois congressional delegation. Colleen was among nearly 300 individuals from 35 states who took part in a day of advocacy organized by human rights agency International Justice Mission.
Participants met with more than 200 congressional offices to build support for U.S. investments to combat modern-day slavery abroad.
In February, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker introduced the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, an innovative anti-slavery program that seeks to reduce the prevalence of slavery by 50 percent in target populations within partner countries. The bipartisan bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but has yet to be voted on by the full Senate. Anderson and fellow advocates from Illinois advocated for swift passage of the bill, and delivered a letter of support signed by more than 600 faith leaders*, including Pastor Louis Giglio of Passion City Church; Jesuit Fr. John Baumann, founder of the Pacific Institute for Community Organizations National Network; and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T'ruah.
Nearly 36 million people are currently enslaved, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, more than during 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The International Labor Organization estimates that the crime -- including both labor and sexual exploitation -- generates $150 billion in profits for perpetrators. U.S. and global funding to combat the crime has not kept pace with the need. The EMSI Act would seek to generate $1.5 billion in global donations from public and private sources over seven years.
"Faith leaders and abolitionists from across the country are sending a clear message to Congress: we do not want slavery to persist on our watch," said Holly Burkhalter, vice president of government relations at IJM. "Although the EMSI Act would generate unprecedented new resources to fight slavery, U.S. contributions to the initiative would still only amount to 0.07 percent of the US international assistance budget. Surely Congress can find common ground in the belief that ending the violent exploitation of men, women and children the world over is worth that much."
"I know that people in Illinois care about modern-day slavery, but we often feel overwhelmed by the problem. Knowing that it is possible to combat the crime has given me the confidence to advocate for strong policies and funding with our elected leaders in government," Anderson said.
IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals secure justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. In 2014, IJM and IJM-trained partners brought relief to 4,376 victims of violence around the world. For more information about International Justice Mission visit www.ijm.org.
To view faith leader letter and current list of signatures, visit freedomcommons.ijm.org/action-alert/end-modern-slavery-initiative.