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IJM Addresses House Foreign Affairs Committee on Violence Against Children

Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, WASHINGTON, DC – Today, IJM’s Josephine Aparo testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, presenting her personal experience as a survivor of violence and civil war in Uganda. Aparo also gave specific recommendations for the U.S. Congress to stand up as a leader in the fight against sexual violence and forced child labor prevalent in various African regions.

Orphaned as a young girl in Northern Uganda, Aparo lived through a two-decade civil war that tore apart her family and her country. Her own story of struggle and triumph fuels her desire to help other women stand strong. A founding member of the Global Survivor Network, Aparo now serves as an aftercare manager with IJM, supporting child survivors of slavery on Lake Volta.

“I chose to become a social worker because of that violence. I believe no child should suffer like that,” said Aparo. After sharing the story of a young boy trafficked onto Lake Volta, Aparo said, “This is a fight to protect children from violence. We have a choice: We can either ignore it as a problem far away, or we can choose to act so that children are protected from violence.”

Aparo called on Congress to take specific actions:

  1. Invest in U.S. foreign assistance programs that help reform justice systems, specifically training justice actors and removing barriers to report abuse.
  2. Encourage the State Department to develop a Child Protection Compact agreement with Kenya to combat child sexual exploitation.
  3. Include international survivors in policy discussions taking place within the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking, which would require removing the citizenship and resident requirements to include experts with lived experience from other countries.
  4. Reauthorize the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) to maintain U.S. influence in combatting trafficking worldwide.

Other witnesses in the hearing included Obed Byamugisha, Program Advisor, Kyampisi Childcare Ministries; Miriam Fullah, Trafficking in Persons Protection Manager, World Hope International; and Dr. Alan White, Co-Executive Director, Advocacy Foundation for Human Rights.

Watch the full hearing and read Aparo’s opening remarks.

About International Justice Mission

International Justice Mission partners with local authorities in 31 program offices in 16 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children and police abuse of power. IJM’s mission is to protect people in poverty from violence by rescuing victims, bringing criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Learn more at: IJM.org.

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