Monday, April 2, 2012

Washington leads the way once again in the fight against human trafficking

“If this can happen to my daughter, it can happen to your daughter,” said, in this King 5 story, the mother of a young girl who was forced into the commercial sex industry right here in our state.

Human trafficking, which includes commercial sex and forced labor, is the fastest growing international crime and the second most profitable organized crime, behind drug trafficking. The U.S. Department of State reports that 14,500-17,000 persons are trafficked into the United States each year.

But not all the victims of human trafficking had to cross our borders or reach our shores, many of them are born and raised in our state. Since October 2008, King County courts have charged and prosecuted 67 offenders for sex trafficking-related crimes. Seventy-two percent of their victims were children. Currently, it is estimated that 300-500 youth are being forced into prostitution just in King County. But there are human traffickers in other counties as well such as Snohomish, Pierce, Yakima and Spokane.

In 2002 Washington became the first state in the nation to criminalize human trafficking. And now we are the first in the nation to require verification of age for online ads that promote sex-related services. That was one of a big package of anti-human trafficking bipartisan bills signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire last week.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signs anti-trafficking bills into law.

The two bills we recently wrote about here, aimed at reducing the commercial sale of sex in our state by establishing heftier fines for both johns and pimps, were also among the bills to get the governor’s signature.

For more information on these and all the bills in the anti-trafficking package, go here.

To read this post in Spanish, click here.