HUMAN TRAFFICKING ON THE RISE IN FLORIDA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY--Andrew Stelzer

02/24/04

ANCHOR INTRO: Researchers at Florida State have released a report detailing the growth of the human trafficking industry in Florida and around the world. Andrew Stelzer has more

The Florida State study was largely based on interviews with 12 Mexican women and girls who were smuggled into the united states between 1996 and 1997; the women were brought to South Florida where they were forced to work as prostitutes to pay off their smuggling fees, and were freed after an FBI raid on the brothels. Florida was identified as the state with the third highest number of human trafficking victims, behind New York and California. Terry Koonan works at the center for Human Rights at Florida State, he helped write the report.

ACT “Trafficking is happening in our own backyards……exploitation continues�

The study identified 3 primary types of human trafficking: forced labor, sex trafficking, and domestic servitude. Although there are no official numbers, it’s estimated that between 20 and 50 thousand people are trafficked into the United States every year. In 2000 congress passed the Trafficking Victims protection Act, or TVPA, which grants certain rights to victims, but in order to qualify as victims, they must agree to help law enforcement prosecute their captors. Koonan says the TVPA has helped, and he

thinks Florida should pass a similar state law.

ACT ‘The mere fact….really really crucial step�

The millions of workers who enter countries such as the United States illegally by their own choice were not included in this study. There is a major difference between these workers and victims of human trafficking—victims of trafficking are not free to walk away. But because human trafficking victims sometimes earn money—often more than they would in their home countries, a debate arises similar to discussions of sweatshop laborers—if the workers are making more, is it really all that bad?

ACT “There, that larger sort of objection……occurring in the United States�

Koonan says that President Bushes proposed immigration reforms may make the problem even worse

ACT “There’s a potential downside……an increase in human trafficking�

Some of the recommendations of the report include better education of law enforcement officials and social service workers about the human trafficking victims rights, and advertising campaigns that target Spanish, Russian, and Haitian-Creole media outlets and places where victims may be able to see information about their rights, such as gas station bathrooms. There also may be a victims rights law introduced in this years Florida legislature.
To view the study, go to www.cahr.fsu.edu

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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