News / USA

US Lawmakers Take Action to Curb Human Trafficking

Human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu (C) speaks during a news conference with U.S. House of Representatives Victims' Rights Caucus Chairman Rep. Ted Poe (L) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney outside the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Human trafficking survivor Shandra Woworuntu (C) speaks during a news conference with U.S. House of Representatives Victims' Rights Caucus Chairman Rep. Ted Poe (L) and Rep. Carolyn Maloney outside the U.S. Capitol May 20, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Cindy Saine
— Many Americans think of human trafficking as a problem that exists far away from U.S. shores, such as the case of the almost 300 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram and are still missing. 

But the U.S. government says as many as 17,500 people, mostly girls, are trafficked into the United States annually, and that does not include those who are kidnapped and forced into sex slavery within U.S. borders.

The U.S. House of Representatives has taken action to help the victims and to crack down on perpetrators.

A survivor of human trafficking, Shandra Woworuntu, was on Capitol Hill Tuesday to advocate for restitution and other government services to help victims.  Woworuntu is originally from Indonesia.   She is college-educated and worked as a financial analyst in her country until she lost her job due to political instability. 

Woworuntu came to the United States in 2001 under the false impression that she had been offered a job in the hospitality industry, but she was kidnapped at the airport in New York and forced into sex slavery, as she told VOA:
 
“During my arrival someone picked me up, and took me into the van.  They took my passport, they took my hidden ticket, and the same day I was trafficked into underground sex business,” said she.
 
Woworuntu escaped and her trafficker is now in prison.  She received help from a non-profit organization and now advocates to raise awareness about human trafficking.
 
Democratic and Republican lawmakers joined forces on five bills to help state and local governments develop victim-centered programs and to train law enforcement officers to rescue victims and not to treat them as prostitutes.  House Majority leader Eric Cantor called for bipartisan efforts to address the problem.
 
“And we must confront this issue head on, not just as Republicans, not just as Democrats, but as dads, as moms, as sisters and brothers.  We must protect our children,” said Cantor.
 
Representative Carolyn Maloney has worked to combat human trafficking internationally for more than a decade.
 
“There is no crime on earth more appalling, no offense as terrible, no act of depravity as harmful to the community of a nation and certainly to the individuals affected,” said Maloney.
 
The five bills, which must be approved by the Senate, also seek to reduce the demand for human trafficking by encouraging police and judges to treat those who solicit sexual activities from minors as human traffickers, rather than petty criminals.  The average age for girls forced into sex slavery is 13, and the average age for boys is 12.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid