Madison—Wisconsin State Reps. Leon D. Young and LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee introduced Tuesday a bill (LRB 3309) for co-sponsorship that will benefit victims of human trafficking by allowing them the opportunity to petition the courts and have their records expunged when the charges brought against them are directly linked to them being trafficked. The following statement was released after announcing this newly proposed legislation: “Human trafficking is a growing concern in the state and it is time to start rethinking the issue and providing some relief to those who are unfortunately forced into this servitude,” Young said in a statement. “Our proposal is modeled after legislation recently passed in Florida and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott who labeled human trafficking a form of ‘modern day slavery.’ Young said Wisconsin recognizes the urgency with human trafficking and the need to tackle the issue from every angle possible. Senator Harris and Representative LaTonya Johnson have also circulated a bill (LRB 3168) for co-sponsorship, which seeks to change the definition of human trafficking. The state legislator added, under current law, prosecutors have too often fallen short of convicting traffickers due to the condition that prosecutors must prove the trafficking was done without the victim’s consent. “This is clearly problematic because there is often a substantial level of mental manipulation on behalf of the trafficker,” Young said. “With the successful passage of LRB 3309 and LRB 3168, I believe we will be in a better position to confront the practice of human trafficking. We can hold more traffickers accountable while deterring others, and we can also help rebuild the integrity of those trafficked, putting them in a position to help other victims.”
By Sara Gates
Modern slavery may be a much larger problem than recently estimated.
In its inaugural Global Slavery Index, released Thursday, the Walk Free Foundationrevealed that more than 29 million people around the world are living in slavery. That’s higher than the U.S. State Department’s estimate of 27 million and well above the International Labor Organization’s estimate of 21 million.
“It would be comforting to think that slavery is a relic of history, but it remains a scar on humanity on every continent,” Walk Free CEO Nick Grono said in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. The organization, launched in 2012, seeks to end modern slavery by spreading awareness about the prevalence of slavery practices and what governments are doing (or failing to do) to stop those practices.
Walk Free ranks 162 countries based on three factors: the estimated prevalence of modern slavery, child marriages and human trafficking. The index considers both children and adults to be “living in slavery” if they have been victims of debt bondage, mandated marriages or forced labor.
Among the countries with the highest percentage of modern slavery per capita, the West African nation of Mauritania was the worst offender. According to the report, up to 20 percent of Mauritania’s population of 3.7 million people are enslaved, many through a hereditary system.
Among the 10 countries with the highest proportion of people living in slavery, Indiaranked fourth. But in terms of raw figures, the South Asian country has the highest number of people enslaved — between 13.3 million and 14.7 million.