by Marina Colby, ECPAT-USA
On March 7th hundreds of advocates, survivors, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders and lawmakers rose to their feet to applaud President Obama as he signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). I was fortunate to be in the room to snap this photograph!
This law renews our nation’s efforts to help end violence against all women and to strengthen our most important tools to fight all forms of human trafficking, including the trafficking of children right here in the United States.
President Obama signing VAWA/TVPRA (Photo credit: National Congress of American Indians)
At ECPAT-USA, and with your support, we worked along with other advocates, policy makers and Congressional members to shine a brighter light on the needs of children harmed by human trafficking. We shaped new legislative language to more effectively identify and respond to the needs of children exploited by human traffickers, as well as to prevent child trafficking from occurring in the first place.
Here are five new provisions that we really like in the newly reauthorized VAWA and TVPA – and we think you will too!
1. For the first time since VAWA was originally passed in 1994, victim services and legal assistance may now be provided to survivors of human trafficking, when trafficking is part of their domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking victimization.
2. Enhanced safety for Native American women and youth who have been harmed by human trafficking. New provisions in VAWA now allow services to be extended to sex trafficking victims under the grant programs for Indian Tribal governments and coalitions. Sex trafficking has also been added to the purpose area for research on violence against Indian women.
3. VAWA creates a newly consolidated grant program on Creating Hope Through Outreach, Options, Services and Education for Children and Youth. This grant program funds early intervention and services for victimized youth in schools and communities, and now includes sex trafficked youth. Plus, the definition of “youth” was amended in VAWA to include the ages 11-24.
4. The Violence Against Women Act includes a reauthorization of the TVPA with new and enhanced language involving trafficked youth. The TVPA has a new block grant to be administered by states to improve protections and assistance for domestic minors of sex trafficking!
5. The TVPA also contains new model state criminal law protections for child trafficking survivors, including Safe Harbor provisions that prohibit child survivors of trafficking from being charged with prostitution offenses, as well as ensuring that children are properly referred to comprehensive services needed for recovery.
We are thrilled with these new provisions that are now federal law and we look forward to our continuing collaboration as we work on effective and swift implementation!
Donate today to support our work passing laws and strengthening policies to better protect children from violence and exploitation.