Trenton – In an effort to further combat human trafficking in New Jersey, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today advanced a set of bills sponsored by Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Linda Greenstein to increase awareness and address the disparities of human trafficking within underserved communities.
The first bill, S-3513, sponsored by Senator Ruiz, would require the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to post information regarding resources available to victims of human trafficking within all airports.
Under the bill, any airport operated by the Port Authority would be directed to post in plain view and in a conspicuous place in public restrooms, informational cards and signs regarding services for human trafficking victims, highlighting the national human trafficking hotline.
“Human trafficking is a stain on our society’s conscience and an affront to the ideals that we all hold to be sacred. This abhorrent crime targets the most vulnerable in our society and takes away their rights,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “Any form of trafficking whether forced labor or sex trafficking, must never be tolerated and we must remain steadfast in the fight to end human trafficking.”
The second bill, SCR-138, also sponsored by the Majority Leader, would direct the State Commission on Investigation to examine human trafficking activity at businesses that employ massage and bodywork therapists. In the course of the investigation, if evidence of human trafficking or other criminal wrongdoing is obtained, the measure would direct the commission to refer the information to the Attorney General.
The last bill, S-3550, sponsored by Senator Greenstein, would require the Attorney General to address human trafficking related to members of underserved communities. Under the bill, the Attorney General would utilize resources in the Department of Law and Public Safety to address the specific needs and vulnerabilities related to human trafficking experienced by members of underserved communities, particularly women and children of color.
“The history of this nation has left women and children of color especially vulnerable to human trafficking. The historic oppression of women and children of color combined with distrust in the criminal justice system has made these groups a prime target for traffickers,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex), Chair of the Committee. “According to a comprehensive review of all suspected human trafficking incidents across the nation, 40% of sex trafficking victims were identified as Black women, despite Black women making up only 13 percent of the population. This bill is a significant first step towards addressing the underlying inequalities to better protect women and children of color.”
The bills were released from Committee by a vote of 4-0, 4-0, and 4-0, respectively.