TROY — Troy resident, Brett Bogan, returned home in late April from Washington, D.C. after meetings with the Ohio Congressional delegation. Bogan, treasurer and social justice leader at Troy First United Methodist Church and director of Free To Run Foundation, attended the meetings along with Troy First UMC Associate Pastor Ty Williams. They were among nearly 80 individuals from across the country who took part in a day of advocacy, organized by International Justice Mission (IJM), an international anti-slavery organization working to combat modern day slavery, human trafficking, and other forms of violence against the poor. Participants met with nearly 70 Congressional offices to build support for U.S. investments to combat modern-day slavery abroad.
In February, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act (EMSI, S.553), an innovative anti-slavery initiative that will be a game-changer in the fight against modern-day slavery. The bi-partisan bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year, but has yet to be voted on by the full Senate.
Nearly 36 million people are currently enslaved, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index—more than during 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The End Modern Slavery Initiative Act aims to reduce the prevalence of slavery by 50% in target populations within partner countries by distributing funds through a new non-profit corporation, the End Modern Slavery Initiative Foundation. The Foundation seeks to raise $1.5 billion USD over seven years from public and private sources. The new legislation authorizes $250 million in US contributions to the Foundation.
“Faith leaders and abolitionists from across the country are sending a clear message to Congress: we do not want slavery to persist on our watch,” said IJM Sr. Adviser — Justice System Transformation, Holly Burkhalter. “Slavery is a $150 billion per year industry, so to really move the ball forward in eradicating modern-day slavery, we need to level the playing field. The EMSI will do just that: bolster the resources and bring freedom to millions of men, women, and children who are living in slavery today.”
“In my role as one of the state’s advocacy leaders for IJM, along with the advocacy and awareness activities I help to organize and participate in locally through Free To Run and the church, I know that people in the Miami Valley care about modern-day slavery, but we often feel overwhelmed by the problem. Knowing that it is possible to combat the crime has given me the confidence to advocate for strong policies and funding with our elected leaders in government,” said Bogan.
Among those lobbying for the EMSI was American actor Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), who was in Washington for events around the launch of his current show on HBO, “Veep.” The show is set in the fictional office of vice-president-become-President Selena Meyer, played by actress Julia Louis Dreyfus. Tony Hale plays a character named Gary, who is Meyer’s personal assistant. The fifth season of “Veep” premiered on Sunday, April 24.
IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals secure justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. In 2015, IJM and IJM-trained partners brought relief to 4,100 victims of violence around the world. For more information about International Justice Mission visit www.ijm.org.