Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa honored by Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus
On April 20, 2016, Rights4Girls Executive Director Yasmin Vafa was awarded the Lois Haight Award for Excellence and Innovation by the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, founded by Representatives Ted Poe and Jim Costa. Read Congressman Poe’s statements about Yasmin below:
Mr. Speaker, the bi-partisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus (VRC) is a proven and effective leader in advocating for crime victims. Jim Costa (D-CA) and I founded the VRC 10 years ago when we were first elected to Congress. During its 10-year existence, the VRC has taken the lead in protecting programs that provide critical support for victim services throughout the nation, including the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Each year the members of the caucus join together to honor outstanding individuals who have given their time and service to helping victims. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Caucus.
The Lois Haight Award for Excellence and Innovation pays tribute to California Judge Lois Haight. She was the Chair of President Ronald Reagan’s 1982 President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime. Judge Haight led pioneering efforts on behalf of crime victims that resulted in significant public policy advances to promote crime victims’ rights and services. The honoree who receives this award is a professional whose efforts have had a significant impact on local, state, national or international public policy development and implementation that promote dignity, respect, rights and services for victims of crime.
Yasmin Vafa embodies the vision, drive and accomplishment of Judge Haight. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization focused on gender-based violence against young women and girls in the U.S. As the award recipient that my office nominated I am proud to recognize her significant contributions in advocating for Victims’ Rights. She is a fearless fighter against injustice, educating not only my office, but offices across the Capitol about the scourge of human trafficking–especially on the unique needs of domestic victims and the need to prosecute buyers.
The voice of survivors like “T” Ortiz Walker Pettigrew that Yasmin and Rights for Girls brings to the Hill changes the conversation on human trafficking. Yasmin knows and works with these survivors both in DC and around the country through advocacy, trainings, and survivor retreats, and won’t stop until victims are treated as victims and we put all the bad guys where they belong.
Yasmin’s principled passion, activism and persistence have been critical in the passage of a number of bills to fight human trafficking and protect vulnerable women and girls. One bill especially close to my heart, which would not have crossed the finish line without her help is the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. Yasmin helped conceive, advocate and fight for the bill through ups and downs until the right thing was done and the bill became law. In addition to the incredible accomplishments she’s had for victims of crime on Capitol Hill, she has also designed and implemented a national judicial institute on child trafficking, co-authored a seminal report mapping girls’ unique pathways into the juvenile justice system: The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story.
She also currently serves as a faculty adjunct educator and consultant for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, served on the Advisory Board for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s National Girls Initiative, and was as a member of the Department of Justice’s National Task Force on the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women and Girls under Correctional Custody. Yasmin is so deserving of the Lois Haight Award for Excellence and Innovation Award, we are grateful for her persistence and passion.
And that is just the way it is.