For Immediate Release - June 15, 2012

AG Coakley Awarded for Her Efforts Combating Human Trafficking

Received Beacon of Light Award Last Night at My Life My Choice Event; Spoke at Earlier Event about the Implementation of the Human Trafficking Law

BOSTON – In recognition of her efforts to combat human trafficking and her advocacy on behalf of exploited girls in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Martha Coakley has been honored with the 2012 Beacon of Light Award.  

The award was presented last night at My Life My Choice’s second annual “Turn on the Light” event, held at the Seaport Hotel in Boston.  My Life My Choice is a nationally recognized program of the Justice Resource Institute that is working to end the commercial sexual exploitation of girls in the United States.  

“I am honored to accept this award from My Life My Choice, which is a great advocate for exploited girls in the Commonwealth and has been an important partner in our work combating human trafficking,” said AG Coakley.   “We remain dedicated to fighting against human trafficking and eliminating exploitation in the Commonwealth.”  

“At My Life My Choice, we are grateful for the leadership of Martha Coakley in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Lisa Goldblatt Grace, Co-Founder and Director of My Life My Choice.  “Her investment in the most marginalized in our community makes her an enormous advocate.  She believes as we do: no child should ever be bought and sold. Period.”  

My Life My Choice works with high risk and exploited youth and offers them a comprehensive array of services.  My Life My Choice provides a comprehensive program of mentoring, education and training aimed at preventing exploitation.

AG Coakley also spoke about the implementation of the new Human Trafficking Law at the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association’s 18th Annual Prosecutors Conference yesterday in Worcester. AG Coakley spoke about the comprehensive approach of the law, which holds traffickers accountable, provides services to victims, and also reduces the demand by increasing penalties for buyers.

In January 2011, AG Coakley and a coalition of legislators, law enforcement, and advocates, seeking to eradicate the exploitation of victims for sexual servitude and labor, filed comprehensive human trafficking legislation. At the time Massachusetts was one of only five states that did not have human trafficking laws.  An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick on November 21, 2011 and went into effect on February 19, 2012.  

Since the passage of the Human Trafficking Law, AG Coakley has remained dedicated to combating human trafficking and to the implementation of the law.  The new interagency Human Trafficking Task Force has met three times since February 2012.  The Legislature created the Task Force to address all aspects of human trafficking through policy changes.  The task force is charged with combating human trafficking through service development, demand reduction, system change, public awareness, and training.

In April 2012, AG Coakley appointed Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch to pursue human trafficking cases as a part of the Human Trafficking Prosecution Strike Force, within the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division.  In March 2012, AG Coakley’s Office arrested and arraigned four individuals charged in connection with running a sophisticated human trafficking operation in and around the Boston area.  These are the first individuals charged by AG Coakley’s Office under the new human trafficking law in Massachusetts.

For more information about human trafficking, please see the AG’s Human Trafficking Initiative website.


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