Human Trafficking Awareness Rally
By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. January 11, 2013
Dozens of people took part in a human trafficking awareness day rally in front of the Statehouse in Trenton.
Congressman Chris Smith says human trafficking is a very serious problem.
“It is very often just below the surface almost like drugs. You don’t see too many drug buys going on in the middle of the day on the streets. This is clandestine, but it is totally pervasive.”
Smith says kids who run away from home can end up being trafficking victims and forced into prostitution.
“Every year more than a hundred thousand girls, average age 12, are on the streets, and they usually begin as a runaway. So they think they’re escaping what they think is a terrible situation at home only to go into the fire.”
State senator Nellie Pou says undocumented immigrants are also often victims of human trafficking.
“Many of them are absolutely forced into this country just for the purpose of being lured into a sex trade type of environment. Many times we find that human trafficking is also done in terms of domestic help.”
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle is concerned the human trafficking problem will increase in the state when New Jersey hosts the Super Bowl in 2014.
“Large venues, sporting venues, statistic prove that is serves as a breeding ground, a haven, for traffickers. There’s millions of people coming into the area and they set up temporary places where their sex exploitation and they coerce these young victims into these arenas.”
Huttle is one of the primary sponsors of a bill being considered in the legislature that would raise human trafficking awareness and protection.
“It will continue to give law enforcement the sensitive training that they need so that the victims feel in safe in coming forward, that they are not prosecuted, and it raises the penalties for the perpetrators.”