Grassroots Efforts Fight Human Trafficking Close to Home
AAUW members nationwide are leading efforts to fight human trafficking by starting petitions for legislative action, raising awareness, and working to prevent sex trafficking during the 2014 Super Bowl.
Human trafficking disproportionately affects women and children. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 40 percent of all human trafficking incidents opened for investigation in the United States involve sex trafficking of a child. The bureau also reports that at least 80 percent of these child victims are U.S. citizens.
Possible child prostitution at the 2014 Super Bowl prompted AAUW of New Jersey to act. The state organization has joined with other members of the New Jersey Coalition against Human Trafficking to train hotel employees to watch for sex trafficking when the state sees an influx of visitors coming to attend the Super Bowl in Secaucus, New Jersey, in February. Twenty AAUW of New Jersey volunteers were trained on child prostitution and trafficking in September and will lead the coalition’s efforts in northern New Jersey.
Also in New Jersey, which already has some of the nation’s strongest anti-human trafficking laws, AAUW members have created a petition to encourage the same level of protection through a federal law. In Pennsylvania, AAUW members have started a petition to urge the state legislature to act, since Pennsylvania is one of only two states without a sex trafficking law.
Both New Jersey’s and Pennsylvania’s efforts are part of the 2013–14 Public Policy Impact Grant program, which awards grants to states for policy work around priority issues. AAUW of Michigan has also chosen to work on human trafficking through an Impact Grant, and other states, including Maryland, have focused on human trafficking at recent state conventions.
Though our efforts to combat human trafficking are growing, the focus is nothing new for AAUW members, whose grassroots efforts led to human trafficking first becoming a priority in AAUW’s member-approved 2011–13 Public Policy Program. Members again approved human trafficking as part of the 2013–15 Public Policy Program, which includes the following language:
AAUW believes that global interdependence requires national and international policies against human trafficking and that promote peace, justice, human rights, sustainable development, and mutual security for all people.
AAUW also supports the bipartisan End Sex Trafficking Act, which will help eliminate sex-trafficking organizations by targeting those who purchase sexual acts and by making certain that the law’s language clearly states these criminals should be prosecuted as human traffickers.
This post was written by AAUW Public Policy Intern Katie Cole.