Though sometimes hidden in plain sight, sex trafficking and forced labor are not uncommon in the United States. Young girls are routinely trafficked across borders and coerced into prostitution, unable to walk away. Immigrants often travel long distances to America in search of a better life, only to be forced into domestic servitude and unaware of their legal rights.
Our friends at Polaris Project are working to ensure that these crimes don’t continue to go unnoticed and unpunished. One of the ways they are doing this is through the launch of their 2012 State Ratings Map.
Polaris Project rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on ten categories of laws that they’ve deemed critical to fighting human trafficking. “Passing these laws is literally saving lives. Without them, victims are going to languish in exploitative situations and traffickers will continue to make lots of money”, says Mary Ellison, Director of Policy.
According to the report, twenty-one states are currently in the top category, Tier 1, up from 11 states in 2011. Only four are in the bottom category, down from nine states in 2011. Washington had the highest point total, with 11 out of 12, while Wyoming is lowest with -2 points. Massachusetts and West Virginia particularly stand out for passing their first human trafficking laws in the past year.
Check out their report to see where your state stands. Not happy with their ranking? Visit the Lobby feature of your Slavery Footprint Action Center. Use it to tell your government representatives that you care about this issue and that you want them to do the same.