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Florida Leaders Address Human Trafficking in the State

January 22, 2014 | WMFE--Florida has the third-highest state rate of human trafficking, based on reports to the trafficking advocacy group, the Polaris Project. A forum in Melbourne today addressed the problem in Central and Coastal Florida.

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Anti- trafficking advocates say tourism generates demand and cover for prostitution.  Meanwhile, the state’s rapid workforce growth can disguise labor exploitation.

Governmental and nonprofit leaders gathered in Melbourne to address this reality during a symposium hosted by Republican US congressman Bill Posey.  Posey  says Floridians need to be aware of trafficking to help stop it.  He says, "There’s a lot of human suffering that you can alleviate if you’re in tune to know what to look for and take the time to report it."

Speakers at the forum pointed out that most prostitutes start in the trade as children.  Pimps use manipulation, violence and drug addiction to control girls and boys -- and to profit from them.  Experts say Floridians should report non-relative males travelling with large groups of girls and women, especially if the men exert control over money and documents.

As for labor exploitation, a Homeland Security official at the forum said traffickers sometimes smuggle people into the state to trap them in so-called “modern slavery.”  Other times, they recruit neighborhood children for money-making schemes.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.


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