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America’s Shame: The U.S. Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

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Well, it appears that some of the attention focused on human trafficking (including the movie The Whistleblower, the story of U.N. peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac, who blew the whistle on sex trafficking in post-war Bosnia) in the last year may finally be paying off.

Some members of Congress have introduced measures aimed at preventing human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors.

The bipartisan proposals (End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act of 2012, S. 2234 and H.R. 42), which include some of the reforms that POGO has recommended, are sponsored by Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Rep. Lankford is likely to offer his bill as an amendment to the defense spending package being considered by the House this month. Both bills would require contractors to create plans to prevent trafficking and requires companies to closely monitor and report the activities of their subcontractors.

The measures also call for penalties, including suspending or debarring or criminally prosecuting violators. Sen. Blumenthal said current law is insufficient and ineffective and fails to prevent abuses. “Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” Blumenthal said.

And, really, all of us should feel pangs of guilt for the human rights violations perpetrated by those profiting in the name of the American people. POGO launched a campaign this week, urging people to tell their Members of Congress to support the anti-trafficking legislation.

It comes too late to help those workers who were abused during our decade of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But our presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and in military bases all over the world continues. And the invisible army we rely upon to keep those bases running needs this protection as much as ever.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

A version of this article was cross-posted on POGO’s blog.

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Photo by Ira Gelb.

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6:51PM PDT on Sep 6, 2012

Wesley S. And
James E. - This is a quote from Steven Wagner, the previous director from health and human services referring to wether trafficking victims should be helped by the Bishops or Planned Parenthood.

"… So, on the one hand, we have the [Catholic Bishops], which will never facilitate an abortion but will arrange to meet all of the other appropriate service needs of victims, from residence to medical and mental-health treatment. On the other hand, we have an abortion provider such as Planned Parenthood, whose staff have been videotaped as being willing to perpetuate the apparent sex slavery of a juvenile by arranging for an abortion and not reporting the suspicion of felony sex abuse of a minor to authorities. Which is acting in the authentic interests of the victim?"

1:57AM PDT on May 29, 2012

There is so much grief and strife out in the real world that such gals are forced into money making dreams.


6:14AM PDT on May 11, 2012

“Najlaa’s apparent abuse of the laborers and said the subcontractor was embarrassing KBR in front of its main client in Iraq: the U.S. military.”

Well, by all means KBR, take a stand if you are being “embarrassed”…. Perhaps it should have been about doing the morally correct thing, but then again you make your profits from war so that might be a bit of a reach….

Sandy E., how is this Obama's fault? Perhaps you should take a look at Cheney's track record with KBR, a subsidiary of Haliburton’s….

Kelly R., take a deep breath, then go find some facts to share supporting your position.

Melanie b., you make some worthy points, but keep in mind under Bush-Cheney KBR and others didn’t have to compete, it wasn’t the lowest bidder approach. They choose to do what they do to maximize profits…, not exactly captialism at its best....

12:29AM PDT on May 11, 2012

thanks for sharing

5:55PM PDT on May 9, 2012

Kelly R - Hard allegations require hard proof. Where's yours? (oh, and I want some that weed you must be smoking...)

4:30PM PDT on May 9, 2012

I don't know if anyone knows this, Planned Parenthood helps in this horrendous atrocity. They preform abortions for the traffickers and not alert the cops of underage girls with older men coming in with them(Pimps). Maybe, this is how we can start to do something about this. By making laws on forcing places like this to inform the cops of suspected pimps. Something like when teachers, hospital workers, therapist have to contact the cops when it is suspected of abuse.

4:03PM PDT on May 9, 2012

more has to be done

4:03PM PDT on May 9, 2012

More has to be done

2:33PM PDT on May 9, 2012

@ Sandy E…”Another reason NOT to vote for Obama! Obama doesn't support freedom.” Just for a change, next time try writing something that makes sense.

2:17PM PDT on May 9, 2012

I am really not surprised, violence all around, war and corruption and those in charge making money off other Human Beings suffering...

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So very precious. Thank you for sharing

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