Human trafficking has tied for the 2nd largest money making criminal activity in the world. Potentially billions of dollars are made on the exploitation of innocent men, women and children worldwide in this modern day form of slavery. At the center of this business model is greed, power, control and fear over sex and labor trafficking victims and domestic servitude victims and it is fueled by financial gain at any cost.
In evaluating the many challenges facing the anti-trafficking movement, a lack of funding is understandably at the forefront of many discussions and contentions among anti-trafficking organizations, law enforcement and other agencies directly involved. Significant progress has been made over the last 3-5 years with many grassroots efforts pioneering the fight throughout the previous 5-15 years. It is unfathomable that we are seeing the disregard for human life once again as slavery has taken on a hidden mask, concealing the visibility of its exploitation.
Fighting a hidden form of slavery has required creative strategies to break through the barriers of exploitation. Those strategies include collaborative teamwork, raising awareness, increasing training efforts, and providing continuum of care to survivors in their healing journeys.
For years, anti-trafficking advocates have volunteered countless hours to increase the effectiveness of each strategy to fight human trafficking. As awareness and training continued and stricter laws have been passed, more victims are being freed from enslavement. We are in a position that the financial resources to combat this fight are in need of a major shift towards enabling progress to continue so that money will not be a stumbling block in fighting one of the largest financial crimes in the world.
It should be unacceptable for us to allow a lack of funding to slow down progress in the fight against trafficking. Federal grants and private donations are increasingly competitive. What should be common ground for anti-trafficking activists working together on local, state, and federal levels has created a competitive space on who can raise enough funding to meet the mission of each organization or agency. There must be a shift in the massive amount of money being spent world-wide on anti-trafficking efforts and have a focus on prevention, detection, and aftercare direct victim services. Human trafficking is a world-wide problem but we stand unified and call for sufficient funding to be allocated to combat trafficking that occurs on U.S.A. soil and across the globe. Trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states and as awareness and training continues, there will be more aftercare needs for trafficking survivors. No survivor should ever be turned away because of a lack of funding and resources.
On February 24, 2015, Senator Bob Corker joined other bipartisan leaders to introduce and passed legislation for the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act that would seek to raise $1.5 billion dollars world-wide to help eradicate human trafficking. In addition, collaborative efforts among many victim's rights and law enforcement organizations fought for the passage of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015. This successful passage wasn't agreed upon by all anti-trafficking leaders but it now enforces a number of important issues, including the allocation for additional funding and accountability for grant recipients. Just as there are proven demands for additional funding, there should also be increased efforts for accountability among those receiving funding. Recently, Anne Elizabeth Moore wrote an article from extensive research of 50 of the most prominent anti-trafficking organizations within the United States that collectively received $686 million during a certain time frame. Her report indicates that there was a minimal transparency among several organizations while others seemed to be more transparent. What is clear is that $686 million dollars is a lot of money in the fight against human trafficking in the United States when there remains such a shortage among all efforts in this fight.
We know there are effective programs in place that are utilizing some of those funds but in order to significantly see more prevention take place and see more victims rescued, there must be more transparency where anti-trafficking funds are being spent and there must be strategic programs in place that allow concerned citizens and philanthropists to know which organizations have a proven track record for the services offered.
We believe with increased accountability and transparency, together we can present a clearer picture of where we have been and where we are going to encourage increased funding to be made available towards strategies to combat trafficking of men, women and children on U.S. soil.