This week Joe Robach office highlighted new efforts to combat human trafficking and provide help to survivors as they reintegrate safely into their community. This crime affects more than 1,000 children in New York each year, and it is estimated that nearly 18,000 people are brought into the United States annually for the same purpose. The office of Joe Robach also announced that January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month across New York State. A new poster was revealed that lists possible trafficking red flags and a free, confidential hotline.
Human trafficking strips victims of their fundamental rights, and New York has pledged to use every tool to put a stop to this terrible crime. There is no doubt that everyone deserves a life free from forced servitude or abuse, and it takes the entire community in this state to make that happen. Joe Robach office encourages all to learn the warning signs, keep an eye out when traveling, and report anything suspicious to the proper authorities.
Affecting more than 1,000 children in New York State each year, human trafficking is the illegal trade or use of men, women and children against their will for the purpose of forced labor or sexual exploitation. While many cases of human trafficking go unreported, the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that each year, nearly 18,000 people are brought in to the United States and held against their will for the purposes of labor and sex trafficking. The federal Justice Department also reports there are as many as 300,000 minors at risk of being trafficked in the United States.
The new poster, which aims to teach viewers to identify the possible signs of human trafficking and what to do if a suspicious situation arises, will be placed prominently in 27 service plazas along the New York State Thruway, other highway rest stops, and county social service district offices. The poster lists a toll-free hotline – 1-888-373-7888 – that can connect individuals with free and confidential help in 170 languages.
Thruway service areas are being targeted for this campaign because many traffickers physically move victims from their homes to other areas. If motorists utilizing the Thruway see something, often they will not know of who or where to turn to report an incident that looks like human trafficking. This campaign brings awareness to the mobile aspects of the crime and recognizes that motorists can be effective reporters to law enforcement.
Identifying trafficking victims can also be a challenge. Traffickers often rely on various tactics to maintain physical and psychological control over their victims, which prevents those individuals from fleeing the situation or reporting their victimization to law enforcement. The proper identification of victims is critical to connecting them with the vital services available to assist survivors in meeting their needs.
New York State’s anti-human trafficking law, which took effect Nov. 1, 2007, takes a comprehensive and coordinated approach to fighting human trafficking. The law created new crimes of sex and labor trafficking, a process to provide survivors with services and assistance and established the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking. The Women’s Equality Agenda would further crack down on traffickers and provide further protections to victims.
For information on services for trafficking survivors Joe Robach office suggest residents go to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance website. Child welfare professionals and those who work with children can visit the Office of Children and Family Services website to learn about red flags and how to help survivors as well.