HUMAN TRAFFICKING ON THE RISE IN FLORIDA AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY--Andrew Stelzer02/24/04
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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“Trafficking is happening in our own backyardsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦exploitation continuesÃ¢â‚¬?
The study identified 3 primary types of human trafficking: forced labor, sex trafficking, and domestic servitude. Although there are no official numbers, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe mere factÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.really really crucial stepÃ¢â‚¬?
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 traffickingÃ¢â‚¬â€victims of trafficking are not free to walk away. But because human trafficking victims sometimes earn moneyÃ¢â‚¬â€often more than they would in their home countries, a debate arises similar to discussions of sweatshop laborersÃ¢â‚¬â€if the workers are making more, is it really all that bad?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“There, that larger sort of objectionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦occurring in the United StatesÃ¢â‚¬?
Koonan says that President Bushes proposed immigration reforms may make the problem even worse
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a potential downsideÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬Â¦an increase in human traffickingÃ¢â‚¬?
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, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Andrew Stelzer