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Anti-Human Trafficking Bill Named For Frederick Douglass Introduced

Congress is taking new steps to combat human trafficking by introducing a bill named after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

On September 3rd, descendants of Douglass and Congress members announced the Frederick Douglass Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2021­.

The date coincides with the anniversary of Douglass’ self-emancipation in the 19th Century.

The act would contribute $1.6 billion over five years to aid in the fight against human trafficking. This includes putting measures in place to prevent the online grooming of children and establishing a Survivor Employment and Education program.

It would also expand programs established under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the first comprehensive federal statute to address the issue. The bipartisan bill was introduced by GOP Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, who pushed for the 2000 bill to pass, and Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California.

“Frederick Douglass’ life and mission are incomparable—and inspire,” said Smith, a longtime advocate for trafficking victims who authored four additional anti-trafficking laws since the TVPA. “Remembering his tenacity, today we combat the scourge of sex and labor trafficking—modern-day slavery—and rededicate ourselves to abolishing it.”
At least 17 anti-trafficking organizations and alliances have endorsed the bill thus far, including The Coalition Against Women’s Trafficking, ECPAT-USA, and the Foundation United.

Ken Morris, the great-great-great-grandson of Douglass and the great-great-grandson of Booker T. Washington, worked closely with lawmakers on the bill.

“I have the great privilege of being descended from one of America’s best-known abolitionists,” said Morris, who is also the great-great grandson of Booker T. Washington and serves as President of Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. “But I didn’t inherit an understanding of contemporary forms of slavery. That’s why our knowledge of these crimes—and the institutional support to stop them—must continue to expand. This bill will do that,” he stated while in attendance at the press conference.“

“The bill also provides resources for Survivor Employment and Education program that includes wraparound social services, case management, life skills training, education, employment and college scholarships,” said Rep. Bass. “It is not enough just to rescue people; you have to be able to help them prevent being trafficked again because that is often what happens.”

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