TROY — Troy resident Brett Bogan returned home last week from Washington, D.C. after meetings with the Ohio Congressional delegation on the topic of violence against women and children in Central America. Bogan joined a group of nearly 300 advocates from nearly 40 states who took part in a day of advocacy organized by global human rights organization International Justice Mission (IJM). Participants met with more than 200 Congressional offices to build support for U.S. investments to combat violence against women and children in Central America.
In an act of rare bipartisan agreement, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Central American Women and Children Protection Act in June. The bill authorizes the US government to enter into strategic agreements with the countries of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to strengthen the criminal justice system response to violence against women and children. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate. Bogan and fellow advocates from Ohio advocated last week for Congress to move swiftly to pass the legislation in the Senate and send the bill to the President for signature. They also delivered a letter of support for the legislation signed by more than 300 faith leaders from around the U.S.
Violence and poverty are driving an unprecedented migration of women, children, families from Central America; an estimated 265,000 people have left El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in each of the past five years, with the majority bound for the United States. According to the Congressional Research Service, more than twice as many people may leave the region this year. In March, President Trump announced the suspension of all U.S. aid to the region.
“With all eyes turned toward the crisis at the US border, there is an openness on both sides of the aisle to consider solutions that address one of the major root causes of migration: unchecked violence,” said Holly Burkhalter, a senior advisor at IJM. “This legislation presents an opportunity for the U.S. government to come alongside these struggling nations to strengthen criminal justice systems so they protect the most vulnerable.”
This is the fifth time that Bogan has traveled to D.C. to advocate with IJM since 2014. In addition to that work, Bogan works with First United Methodist Church and his nonprofit Free To Run Foundation to organize events in Troy to educate the community and raise awareness of human trafficking and other social justice issues.
“I know that people in the Miami Valley care about violence against women and children in Central America, but we often feel overwhelmed by the problem and unsure how to help. Knowing that our country can play a vital role in protecting women and children has given me the confidence to advocate for this legislation with our elected leaders in government,” Bogan said.
International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects people in poverty from violence. IJM partners with local authorities in 19 program offices in 11 countries to combat slavery, violence against women and children, and other forms of abuse against people who are poor. IJM works to rescue and restore victims, hold perpetrators accountable, and help strengthen public justice systems. Learn more at IJM.org.
Free To Run Foundation is a Troy-based nonprofit founded in 2012 to raise awareness of human trafficking, and to educate and empower the community to become more involved in the fight to end modern day slavery. Free To Run organizes an annual 5K run/walk on New Year’s Day in Troy, which is in its 13th year. This year, the organization created a youth initiative to get teens involved in the abolitionist movement. Learn more at FreeToRunFoundation.org.