Human trafficking is the second largest criminal enterprise in the world after drug trafficking.
Senator Daylin Leach (D-PA) has been at the forefront of pushing for legislation aimed at combating human trafficking. Leach is supportinbg 2012's House Bill 235, which in his words will “save thousands of lives in our state and bring criminal perpetrators to justice.” However, that measure was not passed and would have to be reintroduced in the 2013-14 legislative session
The proposal aligns the state with the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act and sets out specific duties for the Department of Labor and Industry and prescribes penalties for human trafficking-related crimes.
Friday, January 11th has been designated as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Day” in Pennsylvania in an effort to raise awareness and opposition to the crime.
When reintroudced, the bill would require the Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline number to be placed prominently in certain establishments. The hotline is free to call, and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “This resource saves lives and comes at no cost to the Commonwealth or its citizens,” said Leach.
“The most important thing we hope to accomplish is awareness... it affects hundreds of thousands of people, mostly juveniles, in America every year.”
Human trafficking includes forced marriage, prostitution, forced labor, and slavery.
The first step to eliminating human trafficking, according to Leach, is raising awareness.
“There is a lot of money to be made, there is a lot of unscrupulous people out there; and so hopefully this legislation and other legislation that we’re going to be supporting this session will help us begin to make a dent in what is essentially human slavery. That’s what it is, people are being kept as slaves.”