On Human Trafficking Awareness Day, AG Healey Vows to Combat Exploitation of People in Massachusetts
BOSTON – Today, Attorney General Maura Healey vowed to continue her office’s efforts to combat the egregious crime of human trafficking and the exploitation of people in Massachusetts. AG Healey issued the following statement in observation of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day:
“Every day we must fight against the prevalent myth that human trafficking doesn’t happen in Massachusetts. Let there be no doubt, people of every background are being exploited across the world, across this country, and right here in our own backyards.
“While we have made tremendous strides in our efforts to combat human trafficking since the law was passed, there is still much more to do. We will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who profit from the sexual exploitation of others, and who often prey on the most at-risk populations. Many victims are lured into human trafficking by pimps at a young age, and then forced to stay through fear, harassment, and violence.
“This is also why we need to focus on making sure survivors have access to the array of services they so desperately need, from mental health counseling and housing to job training and employment opportunities.
“Human trafficking is not a victimless crime. It is the exploitation of human beings. Those who are buying sex need to know that they are supporting the exploitation of someone’s daughter, son, sister or brother. We must work together to do all that we can to stop it.”
The Attorney General’s Office has been aggressive in tackling the problem of human trafficking and led efforts to pass comprehensive human trafficking legislation in 2011. That law, which established the state crimes of human trafficking for sexual servitude and forced labor, has been a significant tool in the AG’s Office’s efforts to fight human trafficking as well as in the efforts of others across the state including law enforcement, advocates and public officials.
The law mandated an interagency task force made up of 19 organizations, which made recommendations to the Legislature in August 2013. To further the work of the task force, the AG’s Office has continued to work with experts in the field to implement the recommendations made in the report.
The AG’s Office has a dedicated Human Trafficking Division that focuses on policy, prevention and prosecution. It includes a team of specialized prosecutors, victim advocates and Massachusetts State Police troopers who handle high impact, multijurisdictional human trafficking investigations and prosecutions across the state. The division also works closely with other state, federal and local agencies and NGOs in the development of policy initiatives and training programs.
Through the Human Trafficking Division, the AG’s Office has charged more than 20 individuals in connection with human trafficking since the law was passed, and four have been convicted on those charges.