Today, the New York State Senate took action to fight the scourge of modern slavery, by unanimously passing the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act.
This bill is an important way to strengthen the fight against human trafficking in our state. It is a terrible scandal and crime that thousands of people, particularly women and children, are suffering in our midst, having been brought here to serve as labor or sex slaves. This is largely driven by the evil sex industry, particularly prostitution and pornography.
The number of victims of trafficking is staggering. The UN estimates that there are over 1.5 million victims in the United States, Canada and Europe. The majority (55%) of forced labor victims are women and girls. And 98 percent of sex trafficking victims are female. Children make up 26 percent of all victims — over 5.5 million child victims around the world.
And these numbers really do nothing to communicate the raw human suffering that is involved in this evil exploitation of vulnerable people. It is difficult even to imagine the conditions under which sex slaves are forced to live and work. The descriptions that I have seen rival the horrors of Dante’s Inferno.
The Catholic Church around the world, and our own United States Bishops, have long been leaders in the battle against human trafficking. Our bishops have an energetic anti-trafficking campaign, and Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced it as a “crime against humanity”.
Although New York enacted laws against human trafficking in 2007, our state continues to be a magnet for the modern slave trade. By passing this bill, the State Senate has taken an important step forwards, and all our Senators are to be commended — particularly Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who led the fight.
It is now imperative for the Assembly to take action. In that house, the human trafficking bill is being held hostage by pro-abortion advocates. The bill is part of the Governor’s “Women’s Equality Act”, which also has a provision that would expand abortion. Pro-abortion Assembly representatives, and the leadership, have so far refused to allow the trafficking bill to be considered on its own.
Shame on them. The victims of human trafficking are calling out for protection. They can’t wait for Albany politics. The time to end the modern slave trade is now.