New White House priorities to increase support for trafficking survivors, and address forced labor by government contractors

NEW YORK- Today at the Clinton Global Initiative, President Obama recognized CAST Survivor Organizer, Ima Matul, while announcing a major U.S government initiative to combat modern-day slavery in the United States and abroad.

CAST is an L.A.-based organization with local and international reach, and is the longest-running anti-slavery organization in the country and the first to advocate for laws to protect victims.

According to CAST CEO, Kay Buck, “Providing critical services and support that gives back dignity and hope to human trafficking survivors can only be effective if done in partnership with survivors. We thank President Barack Obama for honoring Ima Matul, a former CAST client who is now lending her voice and expertise to supporting survivors and finding collaborative solutions together to end modern-day slavery as the  Survivor Organizer at CAST.”

President Obama’s commitment to increase access to comprehensive services for survivors, who often remain unidentified and toil in forced labor or commercial sex slavery, is a tremendous support to non-governmental organizations that support them with limited resources.

Says Buck, “We are at a turning point in our awareness of this important social issue, and are now applying our learning to all sectors and asking them to take action. CAST knows firsthand that by engaging public and business sectors we can make a big difference in changing consumer or business practices to address slavery in supply chains. The President’s announcement of his plan to address forced labor by government contractors is leading the business model we can all support.”

In the annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” released by the Department of State, President Obama added and evaluated the efforts of the United States in combating modern-day slavery. The President’s announcement to increase tools and training to identify and assist victims of trafficking, increase resources for services for victims, and develop a comprehensive plan of action is greatly needed. CAST faces unprecedented numbers of victims waiting for basic services including shelter, medical care, and legal services and welcomes the President’s commitment to allocate resources to critical services for survivors.

CAST has received support from Humanity United for its model of evidence-based approaches to empower victims to rebuild their lives and impact systemic change. Humanity United’s new partnership with Goldman Sachs, “Partnership for Freedom Innovation,” announced in President Obama’s speech, will provide additional resources to expand services to survivors.  

Ima Matul, CAST Survivor Organizer and former CAST client, believes, “every victim of human trafficking deserves to receive the comprehensive services I did from CAST. These services have made me the person I am today-a survivor and an advocate. Too many survivors in the U.S. struggle without access to this life-saving support. On behalf of these survivors and those victims still enslaved, CAST thanks President Obama for his commitment today.”