Prioritizing Freedom and Restorative Justice: Congressional Briefing on the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act

Ascend was grateful to organize two briefings this month for the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act – one virtual for stakeholders and one Congressional. The energy behind these bills is inspiring, and as the staffer for the original sponsor of this bill in the 114th Congress said at the briefing this week, there has never been this much grassroots support as in this Congress.

The Congressional briefing this week was well attended with standing-room only and included our partners and other colleagues from CPAC, Hope for Justice, NCOSE, Polaris, Rights4Girls, SharedHope International, Street Grace and Thistle Farms who generously sponsored the event. Collectively, we delved into the importance of this historic legislation poised to profoundly impact survivors of the fastest-growing criminal enterprise worldwide—human trafficking.

There are two types of justice – punitive justice and restorative justice. When many people think of justice they think of putting traffickers in jail, but as one survivor shared this alone will not bring justice. Restorative justice includes the restoration of dignity and the ability to pursue a job and a life that one loves. One of their choosing – not one forever limited by how they have been defined by their trafficker.

Ascend CEO Anne Basham shared that employment not only changes the circumstances for a victim of crime, but it often changes the most important opinion of all – how survivors see themselves. A job is more than a paycheck, it can be a source of identity. For survivors of trafficking, they were uniquely identified by their job – in some cases branded physically in an attempt to have them see themselves as the property of the trafficker. This is why it is essential for a survivor of trafficking to be able to have a career without being branded with a criminal record given to them by their trafficker. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act helps make this possible.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we mobilize support for the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act. You can find and contact your Members of Congress HERE. 

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