Ivanka Trump Has Taken Her First Major Step To Joining The Fight Against Human Trafficking

"It never ceases to take my breath away the stories that I hear from victims and survivors."

It's fair to say the White House is in a bit of turmoil, but that didn't stop Ivanka Trump from hosting an important event in the eye of the storm.

On Wednesday, President Trump's eldest daughter and official White House advisor had a roundtable discussion with a bipartisan group of politicians and lawmakers. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Heidi Heitkamp, along with experts in human trafficking, were all present. The discussion marked Trump's most visible contribution to combatting the issue since advocating for a listening session in February.

"We have been conducting interagency meetings to understand the scope of the issue (of human trafficking), as well as gathering recommendations from the academic, public and private sector," Ivanka Trump said during the brief three minutes press were allowed inside the meeting. "Today, we bring an additional and critical group to the table, legislative leaders, to discuss concrete steps through legislation."

With "Combating Trafficking and Child Protection Week" coming up next week in Congress, the meeting was a well-timed event. Trump says they have nine pieces of legislation to help address the issue they are hoping to present.

The meeting comes at a time when human trafficking issues β€” which includes forced labor and kidnappings, in addition to sex trafficking β€” have been thrust into the spotlight. According to the National Human Trafficking hotline, between 2015 and 2016, there was a 35 percent increase in the number of cases reported. 

In February, actor and A Plus co-founder Ashton Kutcher testified before Congress about his efforts to help combat human trafficking. Kutcher is also the co-founder of Thorn, an organization whose technology is used to combat human trafficking and child sexual slavery.  

Not long after, a new website was launched by University of Southern California professor Annalisa Enrile to help understand the scope of the issue. Enrile's site is believed to contain the most comprehensive dataset on human trafficking, where it happens, how it happens, and who is involved. The numbers were mind-boggling: according to the International Labor Organization, there are an estimated around 21 million victims of forced labour worldwide. 

Fortunately, along with the number of cases reported rising, so too has the number of prosecutions. In an interview with Enrile, she expressed her amazement at the resiliency of the victims.

"What continues to shock me is the sheer inhumanity in which people can do harm to other people," Enrile told A Plus. "It never ceases to take my breath away the stories that I hear from victims and survivors of how resilient they must be, the bravery they must have to persevere, and the hope, this beautiful hope they have that life has something better for them."

Cover image via Nicole S Glass / Shutterstock.com.