Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks at an event entitled “Women of the House: Standing Up for Trafficked and Exploited Girls.” Below are her remarks:
Thank you Rights4Girls. Thank you Malika Saada Saar. Susan Molinari, a leader. Thank you to my colleagues, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz – leaders on the subject of women and the rights of young girls.
When most Americans think of human trafficking, their minds travel to countries across the globe – far from the unimaginable horrors and unspeakable tragedies occurring on the streets where we live – women around the world and when we think of human trafficking, so many times that we – and you know, and your commitment to human rights, that when we thought of it, we always thought of it happening someplace else as a terrible thing.
But as [Congresswoman] Rosa DeLauro said: over 80 percent of the cases in the United States are U.S. citizens and so much of it, of what is happening in our country. I’m actually thrilled to be with Malika. She first visited my office in, what, 1996, when we were talking about the…
Ms. Saada Saar. Welfare reform.
Leader Pelosi. Welfare reform bill. I suggested that she do what I did not do when I missed the opportunity to go to law school. She did and here she is.
Rights4girls. Thank you, thank you so much for your leadership Malika. You did great.
To be with Susan Molinari and her daughter is a special thrill for me because I served with her father, I served with her husband, and most importantly I served with her.
Ms. Molinari. And maybe you’ll serve with my daughter.
Leader Pelosi. Oh no, no, no, no, no, no – I leave that to [inaudible]. But I hope that she will serve. She’ll serve with [Congresswoman] Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s daughters.
And to be here with all, all of my colleagues. [Congresswoman] Rosa DeLauro used the term “slavery.” That is not a term to be used lightly but the fact is, it applies here. The scale, brutality, and prevalence of sex trafficking demands that we recognize it for the atrocity that it is. T did not tell her whole story here – well at least in the introduction – but I know that it is a sad one in terms of ten years old.
When the President signed the Violence Against Women Act, which has very important provisions that relate to trafficking, a young woman named Ty was there. Ty told me her story – T, not unlike yours, she said that when she was 12 years old – I said: how, “how did this happen to you?” She said: “when I was 12 years old, a neighbor” sort of “drew me into this. I had no financial options. This was a path that I was taken down one step at a time, until it was – it was just horrifying.” She managed, through the help of good people, to come out of it years later and now she is working, as you are, to help other people escape, break the chains of bondage of sexual trafficking in our country and hopefully, with that message, beyond.
So I don’t want to, I don’t want to take, I have so many things I want to tell you. But just read this – that tells you everything you need to know about this.
[Leader Pelosi points to the pledge hanging up in the room]
I do want to say that I am very pleased that in the Violence Against Women Act we extended and renewed key federal anti-trafficking programs and the rest of that, but more importantly that President Obama’s the first President to put – the first ever to support housing assistance, counseling, and other needs for domestic survivors of human trafficking in his budget. So, this elevates it to another place.
We have worked together in a bipartisan way to not only passing the Violence Against Women Act, but funding it over the years. And now, for the first time, much additional work that we want to do for survivors is in the President’s budget.
So, I’m very honored to be here. I don’t sign many pledges because if you sign one, you have to sign, God knows what you have to sign.
But this is so by far – this is not only a proclamation that our daughters are not for sale, this is a statement of our humanity, our recognition of the spark of divinity that is in every person. And in this very country, the only one founded in the history of the world, founded, the first one founded on the dignity and worth, respecting the dignity and worth of every person, that this should exist at this time. Well, it’s totally intolerable. We will not stand for it and we will not rest until this pledge is honored, this proclamation is realized.
So, thank you very much to you. Thank you so much Malika. Thank you Google and Susan Molinari. Thank you, [Congresswoman] Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. [Congresswoman] Rosa DeLauro – I just have to tell you – you saw her determination here. This is what we live with every minute of every day.
This pulsating force – is that not right [Congresswoman] Debbie [Wasserman Shultz] – for women and girls. Whether it’s sexual trafficking, whether it’s fair pay, whether it’s – well, whatever the subject is, there is never a moment when she’s not in full armor and ready for the fight for girls. So, thank you, [Congresswoman] Rosa DeLauro for your leadership.
Thank you all.