In 60 days, Pennsylvania bars, restaurants, massage and nail parlors, and other venues will be required to prominently display a human trafficking hotline number, thanks to a new state law signed last week by Governor Tom Corbett.
Sponsoring state Senator Daylin Leach said many victims of human trafficking are forced into labor or prostitution, most often at these sorts of establishments. Leach said the bill is meant to throw a lifeline to those victims of human trafficking who may feel hopeless.
"What happens is people see this phone number, this hotline number for the Polaris Project, whether they're victims themselves or they're aware of victims, and they call the number, and these people get rescued," said Leach. "Their lives literally get saved."
Leach said thousands of people across Pennsylvania are victims of human trafficking, which he likened to modern-day slavery.
"Pennsylvania is a crossroads between New York and the South, between the coast and out West," said Leach. "We have people moving through our truck stops, our train stations all the time, which is among the places we're going to be posting the sign."
Leach said the crime of human trafficking is "often difficult to prosecute," but said he's working on that problem as well.
The Polaris Project operates the human trafficking hotline. The toll-free number is (888) 373-7888.