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Message from OVC Director Jessica Hart: 20th Anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

Office for Victims of Crime Director Jessica E. Hart speaks about the Administration's commitment to combating human trafficking and providing services to victims as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This landmark legislation identified a three-pronged approach to address this issue: protection, prevention, and prosecution. In commemoration of this anniversary, we launched the Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center website; and opened the Represent Resilience Virtual Gallery that features original artwork by survivors, advocates, and anti-trafficking professionals across the country. Join the Office for Victims of Crime in commemorating the 20th anniversary of this landmark legislation.

JESSICA E. HART: Over the past several months, I've met with organizations throughout the United States that helped trafficking victims and heard about their experiences during the pandemic. These organizations have shared how important services like housing, residential programs, and job skills training are, especially now. Victims of human trafficking face many hurdles, including the immediate need for a safe place to live. By funding these organizations, the Office for Victims of Crime is helping survivors escape unimaginable situations and empowering them to start new lives for themselves, and in some situations, for their children.

Twenty years ago the United States passed landmark legislation codifying our commitment to eradicate human trafficking. Today marks the 20th anniversary of that legislation, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The TVPA identified a three-prong approach to address this issue: protection, prevention, and prosecution, commonly referred to as the three P's. This approach recognizes the importance of holding traffickers accountable, protecting survivors, and preventing victimization from occurring in the first place.

Early in his term President Trump pledged to bring the full force and weight of the U.S. government to address the epidemic of human trafficking. And he has done just that. Earlier this year, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the TVPA, the President hosted a historic summit at the White House where he signed an executive order directing decisive action to combat human trafficking. And this month, the President released the first ever National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. The National Action Plan calls for several efforts to prevent, protect, and prosecute. My office is already working to implement new programs and achieve these goals.

OVC is the largest federal funder of human trafficking services in the United States. We fund grantees that provide services to victims of human trafficking in 46 states, 1 territory, and the District of Columbia, representing more than 400 awards, totaling over 270 million dollars. Just last month, I awarded approximately 100 million dollars to combat trafficking and provide vital services to survivors. More than a third of those funds, $35 million, went to 73 organizations in 34 states to provide safe, stable housing and appropriate services to victims of human trafficking.

I awarded over 14 million dollars to focus on the heartbreaking plight of minor victims of human trafficking. Of those funds, approximately 4 million dollars will go to improving outcomes for child and youth victims of human trafficking. Another 7 million dollars will help develop, expand, and strengthen assistance programs for minor victims of sex trafficking. Approximately 2 million dollars will be spent on prevention and early intervention services for girls who are at risk of becoming, or who are already, victims of sex trafficking. Another 2 million dollars will go towards victim service providers for minor victims of labor trafficking.

One of the most effective ways to combat human trafficking is through collaborative, multidisciplinary task forces. In one year, OVC-funded task forces initiated over 2,500 investigations nationwide. In 2020, OVC committed over 17 million dollars in funding to support task forces, bringing the total to 46 task forces. And through the OVC's Services for Victims of Human Trafficking Program, this year I awarded more than 23 million dollars to support services for victims of human trafficking.

In addition to demonstrating our commitment to combating human trafficking through these and other funding opportunities, OVC is proud to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act in a variety of ways. We released a virtual gallery comprised of artwork by human trafficking survivors, advocates, and anti-trafficking professionals.

And this year, OVC continued the development of the Human Trafficking Capacity Building Center. The Center is available to all organizations throughout the country and it helps them initiate, sustain, or grow their human trafficking work. I'm excited to announce the Center has recently launched a website just in time to commemorate this important anniversary. We have come a long way over the last 20 years, but we also recognize that there's still a lot of work to be done.

The approach embraced by this Administration, in coordination with all of you, is bringing about real change. The Department stands ready to support you on the frontlines of this fight. On this, the 20th anniversary of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, we thank you for your work you do to serve victims of human trafficking and hold offenders accountable.

Date Created: October 28, 2020