Policy & Strategy

Senators introduce legislation to end modern slavery

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) on Tuesday introduced legislation that aims to reduce forced labor and sexual servitude around the world.  

The measure, dubbed the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act of 2015, would establish a private, non-profit grant-making institution known as “The End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation,” which would work with foreign partners and private entities. 

“Today more than 27 million people, many of them women and children, suffer under forced labor and sexual servitude in over 165 countries around the world, including our own,” said Corker in a statement. 

“As I have seen firsthand, the stark reality of modern slavery is unconscionable, demanding the United States and civilized world make a commitment to end it for good,” he added. 

Specifically, the new initiative would fund programs outside the United States that will help recover victims, prevent slavery, and enforce laws to punish individual and corporate perpetrators of modern slavery. 

It aims to achieve a 50 percent reduction of modern slavery in targeted populations. 

The bill is cosponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on the bill on Thursday. 

“Human trafficking, in the form of forced labor and sexual exploitation, debt-bondage, involuntary servitude and the sale and exploitation of children – is one of the great moral challenges of our time,” said Menendez in a statement. 

“We must end modern slavery in all its forms and U.S. leadership is critical in the effort to combat this grave injustice. Democrats and Republicans speak with one voice on this vital issue. I am proud to stand with Chairman Corker and look forward to the speedy passage of this legislation,” he added. 

The legislation’s introduction coincides with the “End It Movement” this week to raise awareness about modern slavery by encouraging supporters to mark their hands with a red “X.” 

Corker’s Twitter profile picture shows him with the red “X” on his hand, and earlier this week, he posed with Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton — all sporting red “X’s”. 

Tags Abuse Bob Corker Bob Menendez Sexual slavery Slave trade Slavery Unfree labour

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