Monday, October 31, 2011

Spotlight on: Congresswoman Maloney’s Office

In a press release dated October 5, 2011 Congresswoman Caroline Maloney’s office announced that an amendment introduced by Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), based on legislation authored by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), was approved by a voice vote as part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), H.R. 2830. The press release explained that, “the Maloney language would encourage companies with over $100 million in gross global receipts to post on their websites what policies they have in place to ensure their supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking. It will increase transparency, allow consumers to make informed decisions, and motivate businesses to ensure humane practices throughout the supply chain.” We had the wonderful opportunity to interview Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff, Minna Elias, to dig a bit deeper into what we can continue to do to support more positive change.

First, congratulations on the revision of the “Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.” How can everyday citizens further support this Act?

Congresswoman Maloney’s measure is one of many amendments to the law; her amendment will make it easier to know whether large corporations are benefitting from forced labor – and to know which ones have adopted policies specifically rejecting such goods. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act will make sure that the United States continues to protect trafficking victims and to take steps to combat trafficking both here and abroad. If you want to support the bill, call or write to your Representative and your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bill.

Congresswoman Maloney is one of the few politicians who has taken action to combat trafficking. Why do you think others have not joined the fight against trafficking?

Trafficking is actually an issue that has significant support on both sides of the aisle. The Congresswoman has taken a very strong interest in this issue since 1999 when she learned about Big Apple Oriental Tours, a company engaged in sex tourism. They would bring men abroad to meet prostitutes, advertising that they could meet as many women as they wanted. At the time there was no law directly banning the practice. The original Trafficking Victims Protection Act explicitly banned sex tourism and made it much easier to ban the practice. As the Congresswoman became more knowledgeable about trafficking in persons, she became increasingly interested in finding innovative ways to address the issue. Her End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act, which she sponsored along with Representative Deborah Pryce (R-OH) was included in a previous Trafficking Victims Protection Act reauthorization bill. The Congresswoman has found that the more members of Congress are educated about the problem of labor and sex trafficking, the stronger their resolve to take steps to combat it. It is always helpful for members to hear that their constituents are concerned about an issue and want them to get involved.

Nomi Network's model is sustainable because it leverages the purchasing power of consumers. It also provides education for women to overcome their current situation. Do you think the power of a strong business model can be a driving force in combatting trafficking?

One of Nomi Network’s strengths is its determination to provide women with a means of escape and to provide vulnerable families with a way to earn a living without selling their children into slavery. I applaud Nomi Network for giving trafficking victims a way to rebuild their lives and earn a decent living.

- Caroline Hughes

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