As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) today continued their bipartisan push to rid America of child trafficking. They were joined by 79 of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle in introducing a resolution declaring "Our Daughters Are Not For Sale." The resolution condemns child trafficking and sexual exploitation, and encourages law enforcement to help victims and end these practices for good.
"Many Americans think children are only forced into prostitution in far-away nations, but this crisis is unfolding here at home. These children are slaves, pure and simple, and we all know slavery is abhorrent to our basic democratic ideals and way of life" DeLauro said. "We fought a war 150 years ago to end this scourge in America for good, and yet it persists today, in many ways, because it can. Those who buy children in this fashion are rarely arrested and charged with a crime. Sadly, it is rarely the buyer -- and much more often the trafficked child -- who is punished for what is essentially child abuse and child rape."
"As co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking, I am proud to cosponsor this resolution," Maloney said. "It is time that Members of Congress come together to pledge "Our Daughters Are Not For Sale'. As a mother, I cannot ignore that children in our country are being horrifically exploited for economic gain. We have a moral obligation to help the neglected victims of trafficking and to crack down on their abusers. This bipartisan resolution sends a strong message that Congress will continue to fight against human trafficking in all its forms."
Ros-Lehtinen said: "For many years, victimized young women have lived in the shadows, afraid to report their experiences to the authorities. In order to help bring awareness to this complex issue of domestic child trafficking, I joined Congresswomen DeLauro and Maloney in introducing this bill. Our legislation supports efforts to protect victims and prosecute traffickers. Criminals who exploit these girls should be punished to the full extent of the law while the true victims are cared for. It's time to stop the trafficking and exploitation of girls."
According to the FBI there are currently an estimated 293,000 American children at risk of being exploited and trafficked for sex. The majority are girls between the ages of 12 and 14.
Earlier this month DeLauro and Ros-Lehtinen authored an op-ed on the topic. In June, DeLauro, Maloney and Ros-Lehtinen held an event to raise awareness of the victims of sex trafficking in the United States. Women representatives of both parties signed the "Our Daughters Are Not For Sale" proclamation. The resolution introduced today mirrors the principles outlined in the proclamation:
· Educate local communities to protect sexually exploited and trafficked children
· Help girls who have been sold for sex
· Support the extension of existing services to child victims of trafficking
· Encourage law enforcement and prosecutorial protocols to treat girls as victims, not criminals
· Support an end to demand for girls