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Trafficking Victims: Local Problem, World Epidemic

With an interest in the growing problem of human trafficking locally and globally, there are two major issues you want to be aware of. First is the TVPA; this affects the United States primarily. Second is the 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons at the UN -- this affects the world.

Now, you may ask, "What is the TVPA?" It is the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and it has expired! Let me explain. A portion of the original bill reads:

(a) The purposes of this division are to combat trafficking in persons, a contemporary manifestation of slavery whose victims are predominantly women and children, to ensure just and effective punishment of traffickers, and to protect their victims. (b.3) Trafficking in persons is not limited to the sex industry. This growing transnational crime also includes forced labor and involves significant violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards worldwide. (State Government TVPA 2000)

As we can see, this is an important act and congress let it expire in 2011.

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, I accompanied Yury Fedotov who is the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UNODC, and H.E. Andrei Dapkiunas who is the Permanent Representative of Belarus to the UN as well as Coordinator of the Group of Friends against Human Trafficking, for a three-hour presentation to the United Nations General Assembly. I was invited to speak at this event. My purpose was two-fold.

I addressed the expiration of the TVPA and how that affects the voice of the survivors being heard and how that devalues our very being as victims. I also focused on the 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Here's what you want to know about that report.

The Global Report of 2012 provides an overview of patterns and flow of trafficking in persons at national, regional and global levels. The report includes a chapter on the worldwide response to trafficking in persons. The Country Profiles of the Global Report exhibits a national level analysis for each of the 132 countries covered by this edition of the report. (UNODC)

Since the UNODC event had invited more than 155 member states to attend, I urged all member states to help protect and assist the victims of these horrific crimes. I asked them to work to strengthen international partnerships that will allow us to collectively take action to curb the demand for victims. It's time to educate more effectively.

I envision and requested essential programs and services, including enforcement and empowerment education, to prevent, intervene, and treat child trafficking abuse and neglect. Although we pass bills and make legislation, it has yet to make a dent in solving this worldwide pandemic in such a way to stop this heinous act of human "usage." My goal is to provide all children with such assistance to ensure that each child lives a full, productive and protected life.

As a child living in India, I was kidnapped from my family and sold into slavery at the age of seven under the promise to my parents that I would receive an education. Documents indicate that a trusted family friend instead sold me to a child broker in a neighboring state. Witnesses say the broker was involved in child labor trafficking and was forcing children to make bricks in factories. After a year in captivity, I was destitute and dying. Records show that I was then illegally sold to an international adoption agency through Canada, and ultimately adopted in Olympia, Washington by a single mother, who believed she was working with a legitimate organization in India.

I have made my voice heard on the global level and I have also spoken strongly in my own home state. With its international borders, Pacific Rim harbors, and agricultural-based businesses, Washington State is very much at-risk for trafficking. I decided to become an advocate and create The Tronie Foundation, which, in 2002, collaborated with Washington State lawmakers to help establish the first state anti-trafficking law. This was landmark legislation that provided a legal and policy development model followed by nearly all fifty states in the U.S. Washington State is again leading the United States in the fight against human trafficking. And we want to help ensure the State's message gains the attention it deserves so others will follow our lead. I am working closely with the incoming Governor Jay Inslee to continue this leadership with education and awareness.

Some of those joining me in this fight include Diane Tice, the Co-Founder and owner of The Pacific Institute in Seattle, WA. The Pacific Institute (TPI) is a worldwide leader in applying cognitive science and psychological principles in practical ways, and developing programs that have dealt with issues such as war-torn countries, apartheid, and nations affected by natural disasters. Their educational platform has reached more than thirty million people around the globe in 62 countries for over 40 years. Diane states, "Proudly we support Rani, a local neighbor with a distinguished international voice speaking out for the injustices so prevalent in the world of human slave trafficking."

Cristiana Albertin, Director for the South Asia Region of the UNODC, also joins me in this fight. Cristiana recalls her first impression of me:

... it is her resilience, empathy for trafficking survivors and her compassionate advocacy for the cause of anti-human trafficking that encourages and inspires me and my colleagues to work with her to eliminate human trafficking from today's world.

Small World, an anti-trafficking organization in the United Arab Emirates, have kindly stated about me that "[she is]... the very embodiment of hope and strength that unprivileged children worldwide need to look up to."

I am a kidnapped child trafficking survivor-turned-advocate pouring my heart into an international movement against modern-day slavery. As a Special Advisor to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN.GIFT), I strongly encourage local and worldwide policy changes in support of protecting all children from being kidnapped and sold like products.

This is why I'm telling my story today. There are millions of other individuals, like that little girl I was -- imprisoned, enslaved, and silenced -- unable to tell their stories. I speak for those without a voice.

Join us in this battle; we will see a turn in the tide. Charles Mayes once said, "Make sure the thing you're living for is worth dying for." I add, "Make sure the thing others are dying for, you are willing to live for." (Rani Hong, 2013)

To learn more about my foundation, please visit: The Tronie Foundation.

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