In the run-up to the 2014 Superbowl set to take place in New Jersey, the New Jersey State Legislature has passed sweeping bipartisan legislation cracking down on human trafficking. Large sporting events such as the Superbowl are typically hot spots for sex trafficking, and “statistics from other bowl games have shown sharp increases in human trafficking leading up to the event.” The legislation will build on existing anti-trafficking laws by creating a “new human trafficking commission, criminalizing additional activities related to human trafficking, upgrading certain penalties on existing human trafficking and related crimes, increasing protections afforded to victims, and providing for increased training and public awareness.” Legislators hope that the preemptive moves will discourage traffickers. [NJ1015]
The Philadelphia City Council heard a testimony of the growing human trafficking industry in the city. A recent informal survey conducted by Covenant House, an international nonprofit providing shelter, food, immediate crisis care, and an array of other services to homeless, and runaway youth, found more than 200 women for sale in internet ads. This number is believed to be far below the actual amount of victims. While adult women are the most common victims, men and children of both genders are also bought and sold. Because of Philadelphia’s “proximity to Interstate 95, its central location between New York City, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C., and its international airport and bustling harbor, it is poised to become a hub of human trafficking on the East Coast.” Philadelphia city legislators, however, are hoping to reverse this process by assessing the need and prevalence of the situation and taking strong action. [PhillyTribune]
There are around 21 million slaves in world, as estimated by the International Labor Organization. Slavery is thriving around the world including within the United States’ borders. While the term has heavy historical baggage, even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has embraced the usage of the term “slavery,” as evidenced by his landmark September speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. Combating human trafficking, modern-day slavery, is far from simple, however, as “slavery today is driven by the same political, technological, and economic forces as globalization itself.” Education and social awareness of slavery will certainly play a crucial role in the fight against human trafficking. [Atlantic] For LIRS resources, visit our End Human Trafficking Now campaign.