TRENTON – Two resolutions sponsored by Senators Barbara Buono, Nicholas P. Scutari and Sandra Bolden Cunningham that would bring awareness to human trafficking – acts that keep at least 12.3 million men, women and children enslaved worldwide – were approved today by the full Senate.
“Human traffickers often prey on our society’s most vulnerable – women, children, the poor and immigrants – and use coercion, intimidation and fear to trap their victims,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “Because of the nature of this crime, many victims are unaware that they are being trafficked or too frightened to speak out against their abusers. One of the best ways to combat these abuses is to shed a light on the problem, making communities and residents aware and on alert for these crimes.”
The first measure, Senate Joint Resolution 60, sponsored by Senators Buono and Scutari would designate January 11 of each year as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day.” The second measure, Senate Joint Resolution 44, sponsored by Senators Buono and Cunningham, would designate January of each year as “Human Trafficking Prevention Month.”
These designations would promote public awareness 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.
“Human trafficking is an act that lives underground and in the shadows, and without public awareness will never be eradicated,” said Senator Scutari, D-Union and Middlesex. “In order to bring justice to these victims, we need to ensure that the public understands the signs and consequences of trafficking. This will help ensure that residents are involved in our effort to respond to this problem and to stop these atrocious acts.”
January coincides 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.
“The Emancipation Proclamation freed millions of slaves over 150 years ago, yet there are still thousands of men, women and children held captive today who have been forced into the sex and service trade and made to endure psychological, emotional and financial abuse,” said Senator Cunningham, D-Hudson. “To put a stop to these horrific actions, law enforcement needs New Jersey residents to help identify and report potential human trafficking crimes. By focusing on human trafficking awareness, 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.”
Upon passage of the resolutions, the Governor shall annually issue a proclamation recognizing January as “Human Trafficking Prevention Month” and January 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day” and would call upon public officials and residents to observe the day with appropriate activities and programs.
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 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.
SJR-44 was approved with a vote of 38-0. SJR-60 was approved with a vote of 39-0. Both resolutions were unanimously approved in October by the General Assembly.