Commission pushes human trafficking legislation

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. (file)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. (file)

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wants Jan. 11 to be designated National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

“Every day, our citizens — many of them children — are bound in the chains of modern-day slavery,” said Schuette in a statement. “Our daughters, friends, and neighbors are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and other forced labor by criminals who take advantage of them.”

Schuette held an event to discuss trafficking in Kalamazoo Thursday.

The Commission on Human Trafficking, co-chaired by Schutte and Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth) met for more than six months in 2013. Commission members held meeting with more than 60 stakeholders, including victims, law enforcement, legislators and victim advocates.

They are focusing at punishing those that profit from human trafficking and helping the victims.

“A young girl who is forced into prostitution is a victim, not a criminal,” Schuette said in the statement.

Their key recommendations include:

Expanding housing for human trafficking victims who have nowhere to turn after being rescued from their trafficker.

Toughening laws to target “johns” who solicit sex from 16 and 17 year olds from a misdemeanor to a felony and strengthening state forfeiture laws to reduce traffickers’ ability to profit from exploitation.

Instituting a public awareness campaign and human trafficking poster law to elevate the discussion and awareness that human trafficking happens in Michigan.

Implementing a comprehensive method for tracking human trafficking data from entities that interact with trafficking victims.

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