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Holly's News From Washington
February 18, 2015
We celebrated here at IJM when Undersecretary Sarah Sewall announced to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 11th that the U.S. Government has chosen Ghana to be the first Child Protection Compact Act focus country!
IJM and our supporters around the U.S. have been working since 2009 to secure this new approach for U.S. anti-trafficking assistance to countries burdened with child slavery.
An Anti-Slavery Model that Works
Until now, the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP Office) has not had the resources to make large investments in single countries.
Because there are so many countries grappling with slavery, J/TIP has had to sprinkle its scarce funding far and wide. That approach has been very helpful to NGOs combating slavery around the world, but it has been difficult to measure a quantifiable reduction in the prevalence of slavery.
We saw the need for J/TIP to have some new authority and additional funds to provide substantial resources to select countries and to support those investments with strategic agreements between those governments and our own to eradicate child trafficking. The approach was one IJM used in Cebu, the Philippines, where with a $5 million grant provided by the Gates Foundation, we were able to build the capacity of the Philippines police to rescue hundreds of minor girls from commercial sexual exploitation and apprehend perpetrators.
The result after four years was a 79% reduction in the availability of minor girls for exploitation in the commercial sex industry. This was the kind of measurable success we hoped the U.S. government would replicate elsewhere.
Moving the Ball Forward
We worked closely with good friends in Congress and the result was the Child Protection Compact Act of 2009.
Over two years of lots of advocacy work, IJM supporters generated 117 cosponsors for the bill in the House and 27 in the Senate, educating hundreds of Members in the process about the reality of slavery. We weren’t able to pass the bill in the 111th Congress, but anti-trafficking champions in Congress (led by Senator Barbara Boxer in the Senate and Congressman Chris Smith in the House) included the CPCA as a provision within the Trafficking Victims Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in the next Congressional session.
The TVPRA failed to pass in the 112th Congress, but when Congress gathered again in early 2013, the bill did finally pass, with the CPCA provision included!
The last hurdle was to secure the actual funds that would make it possible to implement this new program. Thanks to Rep. Kay Granger, that money was included in the fiscal year 2014 Appropriations bill.
A Promising Future for Ghana
We are tremendously pleased that J/TIP has picked Ghana as their first Child Protection Compact Act focus country. Ghana has a big problem with child slavery, but the government has the will to confront it. Thanks to friends in Congress and all of you for promoting the CPCA model, the U.S. government will solidly join in this fight against child slavery with its partners in the Ghanaian government.
That’s a lot of inside-baseball, but I wanted to share the details of this six-year journey to let you know that grassroots pressure at every step of this laborious process was crucial to getting this new authority implemented—and now executed.
Advocacy can take a long time, but all of you who supported this effort never wavered.
Advocacy can take a long time, but all of you who supported this effort never wavered. Thank you!