A 19-member Massachusetts task force, created under a recent law that increased penalties for human trafficking, released its findings recently. The panel met over the past 18 months and focused much of its recommendations on enhanced protections for children and young adults who are exploited for prosecution or forced labor. Attorney General Martha Coakley, who chaired the task force, called human trafficking a “brutal and dehumanizing crime” that often goes unreported but can be a lucrative business for its purveyors.
The report recommends establishment of safe houses to provide both short- and long-term housing and services for people, especially young women, who are seeking to escape from continued exploitation at the hands of human traffickers. Task force member Audrey Morrissey, who was recruited for the commercial sex industry at age 16 and did not get out until she was treated for heroin addiction years later, said there were too few support services for women trying to leave a life of prostitution. “There is nowhere for our adult women to go once they turn 18,” said Morrissey, who now works with My Life My Choice, a program that helps adolescent girls who are considered vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
In an effort to reduce the demand for human trafficking, the task force recommended development of a so-called john school, an optional program for people who have been arrested for the first time for buying sexual services. The report also called for improved data collection and sharing of information about human trafficking among law enforcement agencies, and enhanced training for police, health care providers, teachers and others in positions to identify potential victims.
The report did not offer a price tag for implementing the recommendations, but Coakley suggested that some of it could be done without public funding through partnerships with religious organizations and other nonprofit foundations.
Learn more at The Lowell Sun article: Mass. panel issue report on human trafficking.