by Rep. Bruce Hanna (Co-Speaker of the House, R-Roseburg)
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. I wish raising awareness about this issue was not necessary, but that’s simply not the case. The reality is a sad one.
Few Americans realize how prevalent human trafficking is throughout the U.S. and right here at home. A January 2010 article in the Oregonian disclosed that Portland had become a hub of human trafficking activity.
Since then, the Oregon Legislature passed a number of bills to address various aspects of human trafficking. During the 2011 Legislative Session, we passed SB 425, SB 430, SB 803, SB 898, HB 2463 and HB 2714. These bills cover topics ranging from punishments for compelling a minor to engage in prostitution to giving OLCC inspectors the authority verify the age of workers in licensed premises. Despite these efforts, news accounts, arrest records, and court activity show that human trafficking remains a serious problem locally, nationally and internationally.
Shared Hope International was founded by former Congresswoman Linda Smith to combat child sexual trafficking, rescue and restore its many victims, and bring justice to those who engage in buying, selling, and renting human beings. To that end, Shared Hope offers community resources and training, awareness campaigns, and policy direction. If you’d like to learn more about this problem and how you can help stop it, Shared Hope International is one good resource.
To learn more about the scope of human trafficking in the US and abroad, as well as things you can do to help prevent or interrupt trafficking, the US State Department Office to Monitor Trafficking in Persons has a wealth of information. Check out the article on 20 ways you can help; It’s worth a quick read.
We’ve taken some initial steps, but more needs to be done to protect the victims, prevent this crime, and punish the perpetrators.