As one of just five states that have absolutely no anti-human trafficking laws in place, Massachusetts makes headlines with women and girls who are unprotected from forced prostitution, along with pimps and johns who run free. Nearly two years ago, House Bill 1328 was filed, but never passed. It is a most basic state legislation that would make it illegal to exploit human beings through force, fraud or coercion, and would hold responsible the people who attempt to do so.
Outlawing slavery seems pretty simple, but without passage of this bill, Massachusetts, as a state, has no way to effectively address the crime. Meanwhile, local news outlets report that at least 300 child victims of forced prostitution have been identified in Suffolk County alone. Their stories are heartbreakingly similar, fraught with physical and emotional scars that will affect them throughout their lives, while their abusers not only evade culpability, but are free to continue victimizing others in the same manner.
Tell the Massachusetts House of Representatives to get on the stick already and provide law enforcement with the most fundamental tool it needs to combat modern-day slavery. Action to protect women and girls from forced prostitution is woefully overdue.