VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges Passage of Bill to Empower Survivors of Human Trafficking
Washington, DC—In recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today spoke on the House floor urging Congress to pass the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act (H.R.459). Gabbard helped introduce the bipartisan legislation to clear criminal records of victims of human trafficking. The bill would apply to non-violent crimes committed by individuals as a direct result of human trafficking.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Too often, we think of human trafficking as a tragedy that goes on in someone else's country, in some other place other than our home. Most people are surprised to learn that thousands of men, women, and children right here in the United States are enslaved by human trafficking every year. In my home state of Hawai‘i, an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 victims are impacted each year, with girls as young as 10 and 11 years old recruited and kidnapped from malls, beaches, and schools.
“As we work to confront and stop perpetrators of human trafficking, we also need to change the way that we treat survivors of this heinous crime. Even after the horrors that these individuals go through of rape, physical abuse, kidnapping and so much more, these survivors are too often charged as criminals, thrown in jail, and shackled with a criminal record that follows them wherever they go.
“We need to end this cycle of criminalization and give survivors an opportunity to heal and move on with their lives by passing the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act. As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, I urge my colleagues to join me to pass this important legislation and empower change for those who need it the most.”
The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would allow survivors of human trafficking to provide supporting documentation in order to get their non-violent criminal records vacated. These documents can include the following:
- Certified criminal or immigration court proceedings or law enforcement records demonstrating that the individual was a victim of trafficking at the time they were charged with the trafficking-related offense(s);
- Testimony or sworn statement from a trained professional staff member of a victim services organization, an attorney, member of the clergy, a health care professional, a therapist, or other professional from whom the person has sought assistance in addressing the trauma associated with being a victim of trafficking; or
- An affidavit or sworn testimony of the movant indicating that they were a victim of human trafficking at the time of their arrest and that they engaged in or were otherwise accused of engaging in criminal activities as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.
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