Dawn Turton, a member of the Commonwealth Baptist Church in Alexandria and a Springfield resident, was among 130 citizens from over 30 states who visited Capitol Hill on April 11 to spotlight human trafficking.
As part of a day of advocacy sponsored by the human rights organization International Justice Mission (IJM), she went to the offices of U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Jim Webb and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly.
“Congress is making hard choices about the federal budget … but Americans around the country and across the political spectrum are asking our leaders to maintain America’s role in ending the scourge of modern–day slavery,” said Holly Burkhalter, IJM’s vice president of government relations.
The group visited congressional offices to build support for The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).
Originally enacted in 2000, TVPRA was established by the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons to coordinate U.S. anti-trafficking programs overseas. It also made human trafficking a federal offense within U.S. borders.
“When I see injustice — something inside me catches on fire and I have to do something,” Turton said, “I'm not afraid to stand up and do what I can — or say what I can — to help those that are oppressed.”
Turton’s dedication to ending human trafficking was kindled after she listened to a CD of International Justice Mission’s CEO Gary Haugen she borrowed from her sister. She was inspired even more after she read his book “Good News About Injustice.”
“You read in the newspapers about sex trafficking and you see it as true. But it’s something that’s easily dismissed because it doesn’t directly impact your life. Somehow, the way he presented the information, it went from being true to being real to me in a way that I couldn’t remain silent,” she said.