11-12 On Preventing the Trafficking of Women, Internationally and Nationally.
Source: Presbytery Event:218th General Assembly (2008)
Committee:
[11-12] Peacemaking and International Issues
Sponsor:
Plains and Peaks Presbytery
Topic:Unassigned Type:General Assembly Full Consideration
http://pc-biz.org/Explorer.aspx?id=1493
Assembly Action
On this Item, the General Assembly, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
Consensus
Committee Recommendation
On this Item, the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
[Counted Vote - Committee]
Affirmative:75
Negative:0
Abstaining:0
Final Text:
Amend Recommendations 4. and 5. as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with a strike-through and with brackets; text to be added or inserted is shown with an underline and with brackets.]
 
“4.       Instructing the [Executive Director of] General Assembly Council to direct the [Office of Relief and Development] [appropriate offices of the General Assembly Council (GAC)] to work to strengthen laws that prohibit trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children.
 
“5.       Instructing the [Executive Director of] General Assembly Council to direct [and promote]the appropriate [entity within GAC’s mission structure] [offices of the General Assembly Council (GAC)]to create educational materials on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children for use by presbyteries and congregations, and to promote the use of the adult curriculum entitled Sex Trafficking by Martha Bettis-Gee (available at http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com).”
Recommendation

The Presbytery of Plains and Peaks respectfully overtures the 218th General Assembly (2008) to remind the government of the United States of America of the provisions of its own Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) signed into law by President Clinton in 2000, and to request that it be conscientiously enforced by doing the following:

1.    Instructing the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to communicate with the United States Justice Department

        a.         to urge law enforcement agencies to work together to close loopholes in the investigation, arrest and prosecution of human traffickers;

        b.         to urge the targeting of exploiters, not their victims;

        c.         to urge the development of more efficient law enforcement training programs to aid in identifying human traffickers and their victims.

2.    Instructing the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to communicate with the United States Department of Homeland Security

        a.         to urge the development of methods to recognize and arrest traffickers;

        b.         to urge the development of methods to identify forged passports and visas in order to limit the number of trafficked victims brought into the United States.

3.    Instructing the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly to find ways to urge agencies in other countries to stop traffickers from enticing women with the promise of good jobs in other countries, and by promoting false marriage.

4.    Instructing the Executive Director of General Assembly Council to direct the Office of Relief and Development to work to strengthen laws that prohibit trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children.

5.    Instructing the Executive Director of General Assembly Council to direct the appropriate entity within GAC’s mission structure to create educational materials on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children for use by presbyteries and congregations, and to promote the use of the adult curriculum entitled Sex Trafficking by Martha Bettis-Gee (available at http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com).

Rationale

As Christians we have a biblical mandate both to establish justice, and to care for the powerless. For example, Micah 6:8 tells us that we are to do justice and love kindness; Amos 2:6 speaks of God’s judgment on those who “sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes”; and the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29ff) reminds us of our responsibility to those who need our help.

As Presbyterians, we have a constitutional imperative to promote social righteousness (cf. The Great Ends of the Church, G-1.0200).

The goal of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is to help victims of trafficking through the prevention of human trafficking overseas, the protection of victims, and aid to victims in helping them to rebuild their lives (United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rescue & Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet) http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

Although thirty-six states have human trafficking task forces, the Polaris Project (funded by TVPA) reports:

    1.   a failure to identify victims;

    2.   a failure to prosecute traffickers;

    3.   a failure to provide rehabilitation services to victims;

    4.   a failure to educate the public about human trafficking.

Many victims are trafficked into the United States through failure to address immigration issues such as forged passports and visas.

Human trafficking is tied with the illegal arms industry as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world (United States Department of Health and Human Services, Rescue & Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet. http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

Each year, approximately 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders, and 14,500 to 17,500 of those are transported into the United States (United States Department of Health and Human Rescue and Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking).

The majority of sex trafficking victims are women and underage children who are lured into situations of sex trafficking with the promise of a good job in another country or the promise of (false) marriage.

In May 2006, a free trade agreement with Jordan resulted in tens of thousands of foreign “guest workers” from Bangladesh, China, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan being stripped of their passports and trapped in involuntary servitude (http://www.nlcnet.org/article.php?id=10).

Traffickers use force and coercion in the form of threats of serious harm, physical restraints, rape, beatings, and confinement to control their victims (United States Department of Health and Human Services Rescue & Restore: Victims of Human Trafficking fact sheet) http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking.

Comment
Advice and Counsel on Item 11-12—From the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).

Item 11-12, from the Presbytery of Peaks and Plains, overtures the 218th General Assembly (2008) to remind the government of the United States of America of its own Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and to request that the TVPA be conscientiously enforced by instructing the Stated Clerk and the Executive Director of General Assembly Council to urge government and other agencies to act to prevent the trafficking of women, internationally and nationally.

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) commends the Presbytery of Peaks and Plains for bringing this issue forth, provides a comment in support, and advises that the overture be approved with the following amendments to Recommendations 4. and 5.: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and an underline.]

“4. Instructing the [Executive Director of] General Assembly Council to direct the [Office of Relief and Development] [appropriate offices of the General Assembly Council (GAC)] to work to strengthen laws that prohibit trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children.

“5. Instructing the [Executive Director of] General Assembly Council to direct the appropriate [entity within GAC’s mission structure] [offices of the General Assembly Council (GAC)] to create educational materials on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children for use by presbyteries and congregations, and to promote the use of the adult curriculum entitled Sex Trafficking by Martha Bettis-Gee (available at http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com)”

Comment: The ACSWP concurs with the Rationale supporting Item 11-12; cautioning, however, that Recommendation 2.b. not be interpreted as a political statement regarding illegal immigration of Mexican Nationals.

Rationale

Item 11-12 is consistent with the following General Assembly policies:

1.   The 217th General Assembly (2006) approved Item 11-25, with amendment, “On Condemning the International Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children,” (Minutes, 2006, Part I, pp. 43, 45, 994-97).

2.   The 215th General Assembly (2003) approved, with amendment, Report of Research Team, The Review of the Situation of Prostitution Around Military Bases,” (Minutes, 2003, Part I, pp. 39, 585-87).

3.   The 214th General Assembly (2002) approved the “Sisters of Mercy, Daughters of Grace: Presbyterians and Prostituted Women” report (Minutes, 2002, Part I, pp. 75, 604-20).

There are numerous reports on the trafficking of children, but we must be reminded that national and international trafficking of persons for sexual exploitation also includes the trafficking of women. Not only are these women coerced or forced into prostitution but often held in involuntary servitude and sometimes lose their lives. The teachings of the Gospel compels us to speak out for those who have no voice against injustices and to urge the government of the United States and other agencies to act in ways to prevent the trafficking of women.

Therefore, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) advises that the 218th

General Assembly (2008) approve Item 11-12 as amended and with comment.

Advice and Counsel on Item 11-12—From the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC)

Item 11-12 on preventing the trafficking of women, internationally and nationally.

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) concurs with the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC)’s advice and counsel.

Advice and Counsel on Item 11-12—From the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC).

Item 11-12 requests that the U.S. government be reminded of the provisions of its own Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), and that it be conscientiously enforced.

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) advises that item 11-12 be approved.

Rationale

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC) is called to be a voice of justice and advocacy for women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the world. Sex trafficking and prostitution has been a prominent issue of concern for several years. The following is a list of related reports approved by recent General Assemblies:

210th General Assembly (1998)       The Plight of Women and Children Forced into Prostitution

210th General Assembly (1998)       The Military and Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women

211th General Assembly (1999)       Prostitution in the United States

214th General Assembly (2002)       Sisters of Mercy, Daughters of Grace: Presbyterians and Prostituted Women

Since 2006, ACWC has focused on human trafficking and its effect on women and children. As a result, ACWC submitted a resolution (see Item 11-13, Recommendation 2) to the General Assembly for expanding PC(USA) understanding and increasing efforts that focus on programmatic responses and communicating to the larger church. The church must work diligently in its efforts to combat trafficking through its work together and in cooperation with ecumenical partners. It also must monitor the work being done by the U.S. government to assure that legislation and funds already approved are used to combat this violence against women and children. It is encouraging that congregations and presbyteries also raise this concern.

Comment on Item 11-12—From the General Assembly Council.

The General Assembly Council (GAC) affirms the deep concerns expressed by the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks for victims of human trafficking and is grateful that the presbytery is bringing this serious matter to the assembly.

In response to previous General Assembly action on this matter, the GAC has created a coordination team made up of staff from across Mission Ministries of the General Assembly Council and from the Office of the General Assembly. This team has worked in the past two years specifically on the issue of sex trafficking and has included staff from Child Advocacy, Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), Social Welfare Organizations/ PHEWA; the Presbyterian United Nations Office, the Hunger Program, (Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries), Women’s Advocacy (Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministries/Presbyterian Women), International Health HIV/AIDS Initiative (World Mission Ministries); Sexual Misconduct Ombudsperson (Legal Service/ Risk Management); and Immigration Issues (Office of the General Assembly). Advocating on behalf of this issue in the public arena is facilitated through staff in the Washington Office.

Additionally, Mission Responsibility Through Investment is communicating with corporations in the tourism industry, asking them to sign the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.

The GAC appreciates that education about human trafficking is critically important. Child Advocacy, MRTI, and the United Nations Office have all provided workshops and seminars on this issue. The staff person from Child Advocacy has helped design the curriculum that is mentioned in the overture.

At this time funds are not available for additional educational resources. The GAC suggests that the General Assembly affirm the overall guidance of this overture but amend Recommendation 5 to read as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“5.        Instructing the Executive Director of General Assembly Council to direct the appropriate entity within GAC’s mission structure to [create] [promote] educational materials on the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children for use by presbyteries and congregations, and to [promote] [encourage] the use of the adult curriculum entitled Sex Trafficking by Martha Bettis-Gee (available at http://www.thethoughtfulchristian.com).”

Concurrence
Presbytery of Tropical Florida