March is here. Like an Amirah butterfly, we start the month on the wings of history. Just two weeks ago, the Massachusetts government enacted its first anti-trafficking law, joining 45 other states in the cause.
Formally known as "An Act Relative to the Commercial Exploitation of People," the law prohibits the trafficking of children or adults for the purposes of sexual slavery, prostitution, forced labor or forced human organ donation. Offenders will be hit with heavy fines, and mandatory imprisonment ranging from 5-10 years. Fines collected will fund the state’s Victims of Human Trafficking Trust.
This is great news. Massachusetts is taking action against the fastest growing black market in the country, and crosses its name from the very short list of states without anti-trafficking laws.
“The new law gives the girls who may be afraid to come forward their voices back."
The Boston Herald featured a related interview with Tanee Hobson, a young woman who spoke out against the law's critics, and against those who once victimized her. Once a child prostitute, she's now a mentor and student. In the article she declares, “In the past, everything was pinned on the girls. The new law gives the girls who may be afraid to come forward their voices back.”
Getting their voices back. I was moved by those words, and I encourage you to read Tanee's interview in the Feb. 18, 2012 article. It’s a unique opportunity to learn from her, because most victims of human trafficking are forced into silence as well as servitude.
Help us take a stand against trafficking. Join our discussion!
Peace to you,
Want to learn more?
Massachusetts Human Trafficking Initiative
Text of the Anti-Trafficking Law
Related Article from the Boston Globe
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Kathleen (Wellesley '86) is a writer and linguist with a special interest in international relations, human rights law, and the rehabilitation of victims of torture.