Our region was very much the center of the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad. We have a history as a people. If we are to fully respect that history and the work of those who came before us, we have an obligation to commit ourselves to putting an end to human trafficking and relegating modern-day slavery to the annals of history once and for all.
Every year hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are trafficked for forced labor or sexual exploitation around the globe and in our nation. It is estimated that there are 12 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of State. Each year more than 100,000 American citizens – mostly young girls – are trafficked for prostitution within the U.S., according to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. Additionally, tens of thousands of undocumented citizens in our nation are in a situation of forced labor in sweatshops and agricultural work.
Our region is not immune to this epidemic. In fact, the Philadelphia area, the very cradle of our nation’s liberty, has been identified as one of the major hubs of human trafficking in America.
Recently, Senator Dinniman was a driving force in passing Act 105 of 2014 (Senate Bill 75), which improves and better defines Pennsylvania’s human trafficking laws, so that they can be better utilized by law enforcement. The new law gives Pennsylvania its first comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking and provide other tools to combat the crime. It also strengthens protections for such victims both during any subsequent court processes and afterward in the form of civil causes as action against their traffickers.
If you are interested in helping the fight against human trafficking:
- Guest Column by Senators Dinniman and Greenleaf
- Human Trafficking in Pennsylvania: Policy Recommendations and Proposed Legislation (Pennsylvania Joint State Government Commission’s June 2012 report)
- The Chester County Anti Human Trafficking Coalition
- The Polaris Project
- Dawn’s Place
In addition, anyone who suspects that human trafficking may be going on in their area can call the National Human Trafficking Resources Center at 1-888-373-7888 to report tips, connect with anti-trafficking services or request training or technical assistance.