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TRENTON – A Senate Joint Resolution, SJR-44, sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono and Sandra Bolden Cunningham, that would designate January of each year as “Human Trafficking Prevention Month” was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. This designation would promote ongoing education about the signs and consequences of human trafficking to work to end human trafficking and to encourage support for the victims of human trafficking throughout New Jersey and across the world.
This designated month would coincide with the annual-anniversary of President Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation which occurred on January 1, 1863 as well as his signing of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution – outlawing slavery – which occurred on February 1, 1865.
“Human trafficking – such as sex and labor slavery – is an atrocious crime that occurs not just in the far reaches of the world, but throughout the United States and even in New Jersey,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Victims, disproportionally immigrants, the poor and destitute, children and women, are often held captive through psychological, emotional and financial means. These crimes are widely underreported in the United States, not because they aren’t occurring, but because citizens don’t know how to indentify a situation where someone is being trafficked. In order to bring justice to these victims, we must first shed light onto the issue of human trafficking and educate the public on how they can stop these actions.”
The United Nations has estimated that there are at least 12.3 million adults and children worldwide who are forced into labor or prostitution.
According to the US Department of State, between 600,000 and 800,000 women, men and children are trafficked annually across international borders with between 14,500 and 17,500 of them occurring in the United States. Human trafficking disproportionally affects women and young girls.
“Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – an act that was abolished in the United States nearly one hundred and fifty years ago – yet still occurring across the country today. Throughout New Jersey, women and children are being held captive and forced into sex and labor servitude,” said Senator Cunningham, D- Hudson. “To put a stop to these horrific actions, law enforcement needs New Jersey residents help identify and report potential human trafficking crimes. By designating January as ‘Human Trafficking Prevention Month’ we can draw attention to these crimes and provide hope for victims who are too frightened to come forward and report the abuses against them.”
Human trafficking involves the coercive recruitment, transfer, harboring or sale of a person for the purpose of prostitution or sexual exploitation, forced labor and slavery or the removal of organs.
January 2012 marked the first National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, proclaimed by President Barack Obama.
The resolution now heads to the full Senate for a vote.
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