RA Leader Joins National Faith Leaders in Call to White House and American People to Unite in Ending Modern-Day Slavery

Posted on: Wednesday April 10, 2013

WASHINGTON – Today, the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships convened to release its report, Building Partnerships to Eradicate Modern-Day Slavery, and to present the report’s recommendations to President Obama on how to eliminate modern-day slavery. The recommendations are available at the White House’s website.

The advisory council’s 10 recommendations focus on how faith-based and community organizations around the country can work together to end modern-day slavery, as well as support the White House in expanding the growing sector of modern-day abolitionists in every sector fighting modern-day slavery. Among the advisory council’s recommendations is the formation of a set of definitive standards for companies and industries to follow for eliminating slavery in supply chains. The council recommends these standards be developed as a result of the implementation of President Obama’s executive order issued during the Clinton Global Initiative last September, prohibiting the U.S. government from purchasing goods or services from contractors who engage in any form of human trafficking.

Julie Schonfeld, a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, was present at today’s meeting and issued the following statement today:

I am proud to join my esteemed fellow members of the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in initiating a national call to action for our government to work with the American public – charitable organizations, the business community, universities and other educational institutions, and the religious community, to eradicate modern-day slavery – a heinous crime trapping an estimated 21 million people across the globe in servitude.

The voices of courageous survivors of human trafficking and the efforts of the many non-governmental organizations dedicated to ending this crime too often go unheard. As faith and community leaders, we are compelled to come together to raise up a unified moral voice to mobilize the public to join us in our opposition to modern-day slavery. But just as importantly, we call upon the White House to use its unique role as leader and convener to mobilize even larger numbers of people and resources across the country – and across the globe – so that together, we can bring the struggle against modern-day slavery to the scale it demands.

We share President Obama’s conviction that “our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time.” It is a high-profit and low-risk endeavor that allows criminals, through their cruel enslavement of innocent people, to profit by $32 billion per year.

Since July of last year, the members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships have worked to develop recommendations we are confident President Obama will support, so that together, we can find a solution to ridding our society of modern-day slavery.

As a rabbi, I recognize that the Jewish community has an abiding interest in fulfilling our moral mandate to emulate the Godly qualities described in the Bible – where God “saw our suffering and brought us out of Egypt with an outstretched arm.” The Jewish community joins Americans of all faiths in our abiding belief that human beings are inherently free and may never be viewed as property, much less subject to the horrors of labor and sexual exploitation.

We pledge to continue to work as a collective front of advocates opposed to human trafficking in order to successfully combat this complex situation which affects a diversity of individuals and communities, is exacerbated by rampant poverty, and preys on those in crisis seeking refuge in runaway and homeless youth shelters. We urge the White House to accept leadership in this realm and to help us grow partnerships across different industries, faiths, and communities across the country – and globe.