AG Healey, Mayor Walsh Urge Senate to Stop Playing Politics, Act on Bill to Help Human Trafficking Victims
Bill Currently Being Stalled By Attachment of Anti-Abortion Hyde Amendment
BOSTON – In a joint letter sent today, Attorney General Maura Healey and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh urged the United States Senate to put aside partisan politics and act on a bill designed to provide much-needed support to survivors of human trafficking.
The bill, S. 178, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, would provide funding for services to help human trafficking victims, as well as stricter penalties for traffickers. It was up for a vote in the Senate but stalled when Republican Senators refused to remove anti-abortion language from the bill. Healey and Walsh urged the Senate to remove the language so that the Senate can vote on the underlying trafficking bill.
“We have seen far too many young victims preyed upon and exploited by human traffickers,” Healey and Walsh said in the letter. “They are the most vulnerable among us, and desperately need an array of services ranging from mental health counseling to housing.”
“To play abortion politics with a bill designed to help survivors of human trafficking is unconscionable,” they added. “Helping these brave survivors and holding offenders accountable should be above politics, and we urge Senate Republicans to remove the language at issue and vote on the bill immediately. Trafficking survivors deserve our help right now.”
Experts estimate that 27 million people are trafficked annually worldwide, bringing in $32 billion and making it the second-largest and fastest growing black market in the world. The average age of victims forced into the sex trade is between 12 and 14 years old, a majority of whom are young girls. Those girls are often forced to stay in the trade by intimidation, abuse, and violence.
Following the advocacy for and passage of the Commonwealth’s first human trafficking law in 2011, the Attorney General’s Office formed a Human Trafficking Unit in the office. AG Healey has made the support of survivors and prosecution of traffickers a priority, and the Anti-Trafficking unit has taken a collaborative approach to addressing the issue through prosecutions, investigations, victim services and policy initiatives. Under Mayor Martin Walsh’s leadership, the City of Boston is working collaboratively with city officials, organizations and the CEASE Network to reduce the demand of sex purchasing by at least 20 percent by criminalizing buyers and providing support services to those who are trafficked.