There was worry that Indiana’s new anti-trafficking bill would not pass before next month’s Super Bowl. The Indiana House, however, was able to pass the bill today by unanimous decision. Governor Mitch Daniels, who previously expressed support for the bill, will sign it before Indianapolis hosts the Super Bowl.
The law, which extends more protection to victims and introduces stronger penalties for perpetrators is the first bill passed by the General Assembly in 2012.
Judging by the experiences of cities hosting previous Super Bowls in Dallas, Texas, and Miami, Florida, Indianapolis is likely to experience similar waves of sex trafficking aimed at ¬tourists.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”
Exploitation can take a variety of forms, from prostitution and forced labour to the harvesting of organs.
Representative Peggy Welch was clear about the message of the bill: “Indiana does not stand for that kind of abhorrent behavior in our state.”
In particular, Indiana’s new bill allows non-relatives trafficking children to be prosecuted, permits child traffickers to be prosecuted even if no force was used, increases sentence and broadens penalties for some kinds of trafficking crimes. Human trafficking will be a Class B felony—punishable by up to 20 years in jail and $10,000 in fines. Trafficking children, however, will be made a Class A felony, punishable by $10,000 as well, but up to 50 years in prison.
Indiana Attorney General, Greg Zoeller, has said that combatting trafficking is a common goal among USA attorney generals.
With January being Human Trafficking Awareness Month, law-makers in the state of California have also been active on this issue. A law in the state came into effect this month. The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act makes corporations accountable for what goes on in their supply chains. It requires companies to very visibly disclose on their websites the measures they are taking to combat forced labour and human trafficking where their products are grown or made.
The law will likely affect 3,200 companies with $100 million or more in sales.
Globally, at least 12.3 million people are victims of human trafficking each year. Of these, an estimated 1.2 million are children under the age of 18.