President Bush recently made a speech that didn?t receive much attention. It wasn?t about one of those issues dear to the media?s heart, like the war in Iraq, so it slipped under their radar. Only a handful of articles were written about the speech, and it received very little TV coverage. I think it deserves much more attention than that, because the subject of that speech is one of the biggest moral issues of our time.
Addressing the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking in Tampa, Florida, the president talked about steps he?s been taking to stop human trafficking. You may remember that President Bush unexpectedly addressed the United Nations on this subject last year, calling it ?a form of slavery? and asserting that ?such conduct should be a crime in all nations.? Also last year, the president signed the PROTECT Act, which cracked down on those traveling to or from the United States ?for the purpose of sex tourism involving children.? The president?s actions surprised and delighted those who have been struggling for years against an evil that?s too often ignored.
In his Florida speech, the president highlighted more of his initiatives against human trafficking. These include providing ?more than $295 million to support anti-trafficking programs in more than 120 countries?; doubling the number of new trafficking investigations over the past three years; and passing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This legislation gives refugee status to trafficking victims in the United States, so that, once they?re freed from their oppressors, they can remain here and get help.
Why does President Bush give so much time and attention to this issue? For one thing, foreign human trafficking is moving ever closer to this country. As the president pointed out in his speech, ?A recent study by the Protection Project at Johns Hopkins University found that Cuba has ?replaced Southeast Asia as a destination for pedophiles and sex tourists.?? That makes it easier for U.S. citizens to participate in this vile trade. And this, whether it takes place within our borders or outside them, is a betrayal of everything our nation stands for.
?The American government has a particular duty,? Bush told his audience, ?because human trafficking is an affront to the defining promise of our country. People come to America hoping for a better life. And it is a terrible tragedy when anyone comes here only to be forced into a sweatshop, domestic servitude, pornography, or prostitution.?
But there?s even more to it than that. The president put his finger on the central issue when he stated, ?Human life is the gift of our Creator?and it should never be for sale.?
That?s why I?m glad the president keeps calling attention to human trafficking, and why we at BreakPoint will continue to do the same. Every person who believes that life is a sacred gift from God needs to take a stand against the buying, selling, and exploiting of human beings. This violation of human life and dignity is an offense to God. It?s a blot on our civilization, and it?s an evil all of us must resist.
For further reading and information:
?Remarks by the President at the National Training Conference on Human Trafficking,? Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, 16 July 2004.
Scott Lindlaw, ?Bush Says Castro Welcomes Sex Tourism,? Associated Press, 17 July 2004.
Michael Janofsky, ?Bush Assails Castro and Human Trafficking,? New York Times, 17 July 2004. (Free registration required.)
Dana Milbank, ?Bush Speech on Human Trafficking Targets Castro,? Washington Post, 17 July 2004, A02.
Fred Goodall, ?President Bush lauds Florida in fight against human trafficking,? Miami Herald, 16 July 2004.
?Castro denies Bush?s charges of sex tourism,? Cnews, 26 July 2004.
Gary Marx, ?Castro calls Bush a ?sinister character,? denies sex tourism charges,? Kansas City Star, 26 July 2004.
?US stands by Cuban sex tourism allegations after Castro denials,? Cubanet, 27 July 2004.
Read more about prostitution and human trafficking in Cuba at the Protection Project website. (On the menu at left, go to ?Human Rights Report? and then ?Country Report.?)
Also visit the website for the International Justice Mission, which seeks justice for the oppressed through case work and education.
BreakPoint Commentary No. 030929, ?The Other Terrorists: The President?s Resolve against Sex Trafficking.?
BreakPoint Commentary No. 030310, ?Enforcing a Good Law: Stopping Sexual Slavery.?
BreakPoint Commentary No. 021213, ?A Job No Woman Would Choose: Hillary and Her ?Sex Workers?.? (Archived commentary; free registration required.)
See BreakPoint?s Fact Sheet on the Problem of Sexual Trafficking.
Gary Haugen, The Good News about Injustice (InterVarsity, 1999).