Most Americans believe human trafficking only exists outside of the United States, in far away countries, and that there is nothing they can do to help stop it. Human trafficking is a 32 billion dollar industry, and is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. And it occurs right outside our front doors.
In 2000, Congress passed The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which was created to stop human trafficking domestically and internationally, protect victims and prosecute those involved in human trafficking under federal law. Before 2000, no comprehensive federal law existed to protect victims of trafficking or to prosecute their traffickers.
Florida is the third largest state for human trafficking crimes, second only to California and Texas. What our state is lacking that many other states have are adequate laws for punishing traffickers and preventing the crimes from occurring in the first place. This fact is supported by the absence of prosecutions under our existing state trafficking laws. Thankfully this is slowly beginning to change.
Two bills have been recently proposed in Florida: the House 7049 bill and Senate 1880 bill. They are both being supported by Senator Anitere Flores of Miami and Representative William Snyder of Stuart, who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Additionally, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is showing support for these bills.
If passed, the bills would strengthen the existing Florida human trafficking laws by combining the three statutes into one statute. The Attorney General’s office believes combining the previous statutes will make it easier for law enforcement to do their jobs. Presently, almost all of the human trafficking cases in Florida are brought to the federal court under the federal law. One aim of this proposed legislation is to make Florida’s human trafficking laws more consistent with the federal laws already in place. The passing of these bills would make Florida the state with the toughest human trafficking laws.
Currently, the trafficking of drugs such as cocaine is a more heavily punished crime than human trafficking. When I read this, I was in complete shock. I am incapable of understanding how our government would place more value on punishing drug traffickers than human traffickers. I know drug trafficking is a crime, and the offenders need to be adequately punished, but how is it possible that the welfare of humans is constantly being overlooked? This must stop! You can partner with organizations like Beauty From Ashes to work for change.
Here is a message from Attorney General Bondi and Representative Synder: “If our nation is to continue serving as a beacon of freedom around the world, we must ensure that our communities no longer serve as havens for human trafficking. By strengthening Florida's human trafficking laws, we can keep our communities safe and ensure our basic human rights are protected.”
To read more about the above mentioned bills visit these web addresses:
Katie is an undergraduate student at FGCU. She will be graduating in April 2012 with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology and a Minor in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is a Senator in the FGCU Honors Program and is the Co-President of the Student Abolitionist Movement. Katie works part-time at FGCU as a Student-Athlete Tutor. She is in the process of applying to FGCU’s Master of Social Work program. She enjoys reading, volunteering, and horse-back riding. She was born and raised in Coral Springs, FL.