In response to multiple bills passed by the House of Representatives Tuesday that would help combat human trafficking within the United States, including the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2014 (H.R. 3530) and the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2014 (H.R.3610), the Rabbinical Assembly released the following statement.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld said:
We applaud the House of Representatives’ efforts to bring to scale the fight against modern slavery, one of the most insidious forms of organized crime and human rights abuse that can be found in the world today. Through bills that refocus legal penalties on criminal traffickers rather than enslaved victims, increase access to welfare and protective services for survivors, and strengthen protections for vulnerable children within the child welfare system, among other measures, these bills take aim at some of the root problems that allow trafficking to maintain its grip over innocent lives.
The Jewish community has an abiding obligation to emulate the Godly qualities described in the Bible, where God "saw our suffering and brought us out of Egypt with an outstretched arm." We hope that these measures will be followed up with further legal action, such as the implementation of recommendations on human trafficking made last year by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in the report Building Partnerships to End Modern-day Slavery. These include increasing the strength of the federal bureau devoted to combating trafficking, establishing government certification guaranteeing that consumer products were produced using slavery-free supply chains, and promoting awareness of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline as the best resource for learning about trafficking and reporting abuses.
Rabbi William Gershon added:
The Rabbinical Assembly has advocated for greater attention to human trafficking from the US government, international bodies, and NGOs with resolutions in 2002, 2006, and 2013, and our Social Justice Commission and Human Trafficking Task Force have long worked to raise awareness of this important issue among our members. We congratulate members of the House of Representatives who successfully oversaw the passage of this bill, and hope that similar legislation will soon clear the Senate so that President Obama will sign it into law. Modern slavery is one of the most important humanitarian issues we face today, as demonstrated by the recent kidnapping of schoolgirls in Nigeria and many other examples. We must work to continue making people conscious of the terrible human toll that slavery takes and combat it with all available resources.