Statement of Mark J. Pelavin Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism on the Introduction of Human Trafficking Legislation
Wednesday, April 12, 2000
Today, we applaud Senators Paul Wellstone (D-MN) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) for introducing legislation that will punish and prosecute those responsible for egregiously violating human rights, as well as assist and protect victims of human trafficking.
The situation is critical and urgent. Every day the multi-billion dollar human trafficking industry expands, dragging in new recruits as young girls and women are bought, sold, abused and deceived into a lifestyle void of humanity. Around the world and here at home, victims of trafficking are held as virtual prisoners, stripped of their passports, and held against their will, receiving little or no pay.
Just yesterday, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism (a joint body of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and its affiliates) passed a resolution condemning human trafficking and pledging our support for these legislative efforts.
Our tradition teaches us that "One person was created to teach us the sanctity and importance of every life, for one who destroys one life, it is as if he destroys an entire world, and one who saves one life, it is as if he saves an entire world" (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:5). Human trafficking destroys someone's spirit, displaces them from their community, and creates wounds that will never heal. We join Senators Wellstone and Brownback in working to end these ongoing injustices.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.