New York brings human trafficking to light – the Daily Gazette

It’s almost like he has some sort of invisibility cloak, like in Harry Potter.

Right in front of us, but out of sight.

Humans buy and sell other humans. Modern day slavery.

Women and children for the most part, vulnerable and unprotected, abducted from their homes or taken to the streets or placed in someone else’s care, transported across borders and across the country and forced into hellish life of forced labor and prostitution, pornography and drug trafficking.

Yeah, kids.

It’s something you hardly ever think about, because it’s not obvious. And besides, who wants to think about this kind of thing happening in our communities, in our cities, in our country?

But according to the national human trafficking hotline, more than 10,500 human trafficking cases were reported in the country in 2020, the latest year for which statistics are available. Of these, the hotline reported 10,500 contacts with victims.

These statistics, while surprising, do not begin to touch the depth of the problem.

Although the information is the most accurate available, it was collected through phone calls, text messages, online chats, emails and online counseling reports to the online health helpline. treaty.

How many other people are there that haven’t reached out, that haven’t been caught?

Here in New York City, the hotline has identified more than 1,700 contacts and nearly 630 calls from victims and survivors. Since 2007, the hotline has reported nearly 11,000 contacts and over 4,000 victims in total.

Between 2008 and 2019, New York made nearly 700 arrests and obtained 420 convictions for sex trafficking, as well as 45 arrests and 34 convictions for labor trafficking.

But there are encouraging signs to celebrate this Christmas.

While human trafficking is still pervasive and still largely hidden, New York’s efforts to reach, cure and obtain justice for victims are on the rise.

Earlier this month, Governor Kathy Hochul signed the START Act (Survivors of Trafficking Attaining Relief Together), which offers better protection to survivors of human trafficking by allowing them to clear criminal records associated with their lives of victims of exploitation.

No one should have to have a criminal record for crimes they might have committed while being forced into a situation over which they had no control. These crimes are not limited to prostitution, but also include fraud for presenting false documents imposed on victims by their traffickers in order to control them.

The bill (A0459 / S0674) not only allows their convictions to be overturned, but also offers a greater degree of confidentiality to help victims move forward in their lives and protect them from reprisals from their traffickers.

It is one way to help victims.

Another is at the local level.

Earlier this year, The Salvation Army in Saratoga Springs called attention to the local issue and highlighted what is being done to help victims by placing an ad for a second worker to provide group services and counseling for victims of human trafficking.

Yes, a thriving, sophisticated horse-loving city and concert-loving city like Saratoga Springs needs multiple people to deal with victims of human trafficking. In fact, tourist communities like Saratoga Springs and Lake George are popular targets for human trafficking.

By early November, the Saratoga Springs Salvation Army had served nearly 50 casualties and trained nearly 600 service professionals. With the help of grants to help young victims, the agency provides case management, training, prevention services and outreach services.

New York also maintains an interagency human trafficking task force, website and hotline involving the police and several social service agencies – using stricter state laws on prostitution and soliciting prostitution to target supply and demand.

The working group also collects data on the number of victims and the effectiveness of laws, assesses public awareness approaches, makes recommendations and publishes an annual report.

The best defense against human trafficking is to highlight it to prevent and identify trafficking operations, and to provide victims with the help they need.

It’s happening. But for many present and future victims of human trafficking, not fast enough.

If you are a victim of human trafficking or know about human trafficking in your area, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or text 233733 .

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