On May 10th, 2011, anti-human trafficking groups from across the state of Virginia congregated at the headquarters of the International Justice Mission in Washington D.C. under the unified title of the Virginia Coalition against Human Trafficking. Representatives from the American Center for Law and Justice, Courtney’s House, the FBI, Grace Community Church, the Grey Haven Project, Liberty University, the Attorney General’s Office, the Polaris Project, Shared Hope International, the Virginia Beach Justice Initiative, and the Organization to End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT-USA) were all in attendance. For many, the presence of members from so many organizations together in a single room at one time was somewhat surreal. It presented a rare opportunity for people to put names to faces, share ideas in person, and ultimately gear up for the upcoming legislative session.
When the meeting was officially called to order, representatives from the International Justice Mission provided the group with a federal overview of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) about to be pushed through Congress again. Afterwards, representatives from the Polaris Project gave a recap on the most recent state legislative session as well as ways for the group to combine forces and improve their methods for the next legislative session.
Those in attendance also had the opportunity to hear from a representative from the Attorney General’s Office who suggested future legislative goals for the group and how to best pursue such goals. Before closing, the meeting further consisted of a presentation of the emerging trends in the world of human trafficking. Those present were given a bird’s eye view of the past, present, and possible future of human trafficking legislation in the state of Virginia.
By the end of the meeting, relationships had been formed, contact information had been swapped, and new ideas birthed in many minds. Most, if not all, of those present that day are now anxiously working towards their legislative goals with the reassuring knowledge that their support system just got a whole lot stronger. Meanwhile, with such a successful meeting behind them, the members of the Virginia Coalition against Human Trafficking are now eagerly planning the next meeting where the group can once again be reunited.