By Brad Wenstrup
Bring Back Our Girls. This phrase is echoing around the world as we learn more about the horror in Nigeria, where hundreds of school girls were kidnapped. Boko Haram, an Al Qaeda-linked terror group, has claimed responsibility and now promises to sell them into slavery. It’s sickening. It is vile. It is disgusting.
These girls were kidnapped from a boarding school, studying to better their future through the promise of education. Hideously, Boko Haram claims to be waging a war against this very concept: girls and women working to improve their position in life. However, we know that when women are empowered and succeed, entire countries prosper.
These terrorists would rather subject half the human population to servitude than see women succeed. While this tragic attack has brought African terror groups to the forefront of our attention, this is not a new battle.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I traveled in Africa in March to observe and evaluate the effectiveness of America’s counter terrorism collaboration with nations on the continent. While I did not stop in Nigeria specifically, the work our advisors are doing there is similar.
American Special Forces are working closely with African nations on anti-terror assignments, partnering with governments to combat a growing terrorist presence in the continent to fight back against warlords and terrorist networks that keep millions living in fear.
Empowering local forces to take ownership of their country’s security will help combat those who seek to terrorize towns and populations. I am glad that our nation has committed resources to help find these girls.
It’s an unfortunate fact that human trafficking is still a reality in Africa and across the globe.
Even in our own country, and our own state, it still happens. Last December, I toured the Freedom Hall Recovery Center in Pike County. While there, I spoke with one of the residents in particular. Her story was stunning.
Originally from Eastern Europe, her freedom was stolen from her at an early age and she was subjected to the worst kinds of abuse for years. Eventually, through the power of community that she found at Freedom Hall, she is finding a new life.
The House of Representatives took action last week to fight back against the scourge that is human trafficking.
A package of about half a dozen bills passed the House that take aim at the modern trafficking networks and the individuals who seek to exploit and abuse women and children. We will help victims reclaim their lives as well.
We can help victims by providing increased access to protective services through safe harbor laws and further protecting children in our nation’s foster systems.
We will continue to disassemble the black market by targeting those exploiting our visa system, shutting down internet advertisements for humans trapped in servitude, and expanding international cooperation in breaking up global trafficking rings.
There is no magic bullet to end this modern day slavery, but heightened public attention, increased collaboration among governments, and a commitment to every human life will help the millions who suffer.
Congressman Brad Wenstrup represents Ohio’s Second District.