State law targets human trafficking
April 17, 2012
By Spencer R. Henderson
Your Capital Bureau
Florida has a new law that tries to stop human trafficking of women and children inside massage parlors. Critics doubt the new law enabling law enforcement to ask for identification will stop prostitution in these establishments.
Human trafficking involves the commercial exchange and exploitation of humans. It includes forced prostitution, involuntary labor and debt bondage.
As of July 1, when asked by law enforcement, owners of massage parlors in Florida must present identification for their employees.
That means “proof of citizenship or proof that you’re here legally,” said Sen. Christopher Smith, D-Broward, “Because a lot of people come on their visitors visa, or on vacation.”
“This seems to be a law that is looking at the sex-slave industry … especially with minors but also with adults … people brought into the country to perform sexual services under the guides of massage therapy,” said George Kousaleos, founder of CORE Institute, a massage therapy school in Tallahassee.
Kousaleos said the new law was created to deal with immigrant sex slaves. Researchers say nearly half of the prostitutes are children.
Sen. Maria Sachs, R-Miami, said human trafficking is too close to home to ignore. She said our main focus should be to protect the children.
“We have to only look as far as our nose and our own communities to see how well we take care of our children,” said Sachs. “Sometimes they’re forgotten as we talk about business and we talk about big issues.”
The human trafficking epidemic is growing throughout the state. According to Highlands Today, an edition of the Tampa Tribune, Florida is No. 3 on the list of states with the most human trafficking.
To see the full interview with Kousaleos, go to http://youtu.be/9z4TotHPC2M
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