Albany Strengthens Fight Against Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking in New York
The state Senate gave the green light to a package of laws that help combat this scourge
In the middle of 2022, human trafficking, with its tentacles moving acts of sexual and labor slavery, are still a reality in New York, disproportionately affecting immigrants and vulnerable women.
And in the midst of the fight that the State has given to combat this scourge , which according to figures provided by the National Hotline Against Human Trafficking in New York , has received 3,345 complaints since 2007 , 414 of them in 2020 , The Legislature in Albany just passed a package of laws that seek to help identify and prevent sex and labor trafficking. The new regulations aim to join the fight to personnel from establishments where liquor is sold, transportation systems and the general public.
This was announced by the Democratic majority of the Senate , which advanced several bills to provide more effective resources against human trafficking, which continues to occur in the shadows, since the true seriousness of the problem is not fully known, but it is estimated that the scourge leaves criminals with profits of more than $150 billion , with more than half a million victims nationwide, which has a "center and gateway" in the Big Apple.
The State Senate wanted to give the green light to regulations that will allow that in places of transport where many of the victims move, they know that there are laws that protect them and help lines are set up, for which they gave free rein to the assignment of more resources at airports and Port Authority bus terminals for information on services for victims of human trafficking.
Likewise, regulations were promoted that require that awareness of human trafficking be promoted in alcohol programs and that state contractors maintain a policy of preventing human trafficking.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins stressed that the package of laws will serve to make the issue more visible, show victims that there is support, and at the same time create prevention tools.
"Although human trafficking often operates in the shadows of our society, many of the telltale signs are right in front of us ," said the president of the Senate, who stressed that the new pieces of legislation promote "common sense measures" and offer high-impact results. "As thousands of people are forced into this industry, we must do more to act on their behalf and shine more light on this widespread atrocity."
The Senate noted that the legislation seeks to simultaneously promote human trafficking education with information as well as referral hotlines for people in need of emergency assistance.
Senator Jamaal Bailey mentioned that initiatives like the one he is promoting to require any establishment with a liquor license and all adult entertainment venues to prominently display signs with contact information related to the human trafficking hotline will help break the cycle of that crime.
“Human trafficking is a growing and pervasive problem that affects all of our communities. This package of legislation works to combat the scourge of human trafficking and strengthen protections for victims." “Victims of trafficking face extraordinary obstacles in seeking help. Requiring visible signage at these facilities where victims are most at risk will help them access potentially life-saving assistance.”
Senator Cordell Cleare , for her part, mentioned that despite the progress of the Senate on these issues, it is urgent to continue proactive work that achieves greater scope, with the promotion of a broad and complete set of measures to guarantee that human trafficking is combated. effectively.
"As chair of the Committee on Women's Affairs, my mission is to eradicate the scourge of human trafficking and I am proud of the package of bills that we passed throughout the Conference to empower victims and survivors today," said the legislator .
Senator Anna Kaplan noted that no community is immune to the scourge of human trafficking, warning of the need for Albany to do whatever it takes to give victims a chance to escape their captors and survive the trauma that comes with it remain.
“ Prominently displaying the National Human Trafficking Hotline in places where victims will see it is a common-sense way to help a person in need , and will help raise awareness of the problem among members of the public who might intervene and help,” the politician said. "I am proud to sponsor legislation that will require the posting of victims' resources in airports and bus terminals."
Senator James Skoufis explained that his bill will help those who sell liquor in establishments to join in the detection of victims and stop this deplorable crime of human trafficking.
“Addressing the deplorable practice of human trafficking around the world requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. My project to empower New York bartenders, often the gatekeepers of our drinking establishments, to spot the signs of human trafficking is a critical step in protecting those most vulnerable from this form of modern day slavery,” he said. the legislator.
Organizations that have fought for the defense of victims of human trafficking and sex trafficking welcomed Albany's new tools, which must continue their legislative path and be supported by the Governor of the State, Kathy Hochul so that they become law , but they assured that more needs to be done.
“These things are very useful because they involve more actors, such as bar workers, who can help raise awareness of signs of sex and human trafficking, but I think a more robust system needs to be created to help prosecute traffickers. and not to criminalize those who do sex work or work without papers, who in many cases are undocumented immigrants full of fear, as happened to me," said a victim of sex work from Queens, who managed to flee from her captors a few years ago. one year, and who identified herself only as Laura M .
Bianey Garcia , Make the Road NY Justice Project Leader and Organizer, said the Senate anti-trafficking bill is a good start, but urged Albany to go further and humanize sex work so it can be incidentally better help victims of traffickers.
“ Putting helpful information in public places is a good start . That is the first thing we must do, educating more about the subject, but the truth is, if we do not decriminalize sex work and humanize sex workers, the victims are not going to file a complaint before the law despite doing something against their rights. will, they continue to be criminalized,” said the activist.
Garcia demanded that Albany pass the so-called "bill to stop violence in the sex trade," which seeks not only to decriminalize sex work, but also to prevent clients from being penalized.
“This would indeed open real doors for communities that are survivors of trafficking to want to denounce because sex work would be decriminalized. On the other hand, as long as sex work continues to be seen as a crime, when you are being trafficked, most victims would not feel comfortable going to the police to report it,” warned García, insisting that the State of New York is showing progress. “ For the first time Albany is seeing the communities that have been most violated and that continue to be trafficked , and what they need to do is move laws like ours, that do not criminalize either clients or workers, since most of us are immigrants and that go after the pimps.”
NYPD: Another Front
The Senate's advance on the new laws against human trafficking occurs just when the NYPD police are also doing the same to address this problem, with the appointment of a Hispanic as the new chief of the Special Victims Division and the announcement that human trafficking investigations will now move to a survivor-focused unit.
This was revealed by Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell , after mentioning that Inspector Carlos Ortiz , who has spent 25 years with the NPYD, will lead the Special Victims Division, where he will oversee a survivor-focused investigative body that will also have full responsibility. investigating human trafficking cases formerly handled by the NYPD's Vice Unit. The uniformed officer has carried out his police work mainly in the counties of The Bronx and Northern Manhattan, as well as in Queens.
“As our NYPD team comes into sharper focus, it is clear that Inspector Ortiz is the right professional to take command of our Special Victims Division and to lead all of the dedicated individuals committed to this important and challenging work,” said Commissioner Sewell
What laws are included in the package approved by the state Senate?
- Airport Anti-Human Trafficking Resources: Requires information on services for victims of human trafficking at airports
- Port Authority Anti-Human Trafficking Resources: Requires provision of information related to services for victims of human trafficking at Port Authority bus terminals
- Trafficking Detect and Stop Training: Requires human trafficking awareness-related curriculum to be included in alcohol awareness programs, as well as training to be developed in conjunction with the interagency working group on New York State Human Trafficking
- State Contractor Anti-Human Trafficking Responsibility: Requires state contractors to submit a declaration on the prevention of human trafficking in bids to the state and maintain a written policy to prevent human trafficking in their operations, business dealings, and supply chain and provide the state with a copy of such policy upon filing of such declaration.
- Act to Promote Resources for Victims of Trafficking: Promotes education of the Human Trafficking Information and Referral Hotline to help individuals free themselves from serious acts of sex trafficking
Sex and human trafficking in numbers in NY
- An estimated $150 billion is generated by the human trafficking industry
- An estimated 500,000 people are victims of human trafficking in the United States
- 10,868 contacts in New York have received National Human Trafficking Hotline since 2007
- 3,345 cases until 2020
- 7,187 reported victims
- 414 complaints of human trafficking in 2020
- 300 of them were allegations of sex trafficking
- 51 were victims of labor trafficking
- 14 cases of joint sex and labor trafficking
- 49 unspecified cases on what type of traffic
Where to report and ask for help?
- If you or someone you know is a victim of human or sex trafficking, you can report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888.
- You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
- To report a possible case of human trafficking, call the National Hotline at 1-888-373-7888
- You can also report to the NYPD police by calling 911
- You can also visit the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition at: https://www.endslaverynow.org/new-york-state-anti-trafficking-coalition
- Call the National Hotline if you or someone you know:
- You are being forced to have sex for money or something of value against your will
- You are under the age of 18 and are involved in the commercial sex industry