WEA Article 8 – Strengthening laws against Human Trafficking

From New York Women’s Equality at:  http://nywomensequality.org/10-point-plan/

8. Strengthening laws against Human Trafficking (Senate Bill 5879)

• Because trafficking is often committed behind closed doors, statistics are hard to come by. Whether trafficked into labor or prostitution, women and girls (who constitute the vast majority of victims) are profoundly harmed by this brutal crime.
• Since New York State first recognized human trafficking as a crime in 2007, few perpetrators have been held accountable, and far too many victims have been denied protection or have been revictimized by our justice system due to gaps and loopholes in our current laws.

The Women’s Equality Act would:

Offer better protection to survivors of human trafficking, especially minors, by treating survivors as victims and increasing penalties to punish offenders by:

1. Creating an affirmative defense to a prostitution charge that the individual was a trafficking victim;
2. Increasing penalties across the board for human trafficking and labor trafficking;
3. Creating new offenses, in increasing degrees, of aggravated patronizing a minor; and
4. Creating a civil action for victims of trafficking against their perpetrators.

At the Women’s History Month kickoff event last week Deputy Fildes who works for the Erie County Sheriff’s Department spoke of her international efforts to combat human trafficking.  We often think of this phenomenon as happening with immigrants, but the problem is much broader.  Humans are trafficked domestically, young and old, men and women.  Many young girls are lured into trafficking on the internet or when they are on the streets as runaways.

Resources, time and attention are needed to stop this particularly egregious form of illegal activity.