WABE News
4:35 pm
Fri December 21, 2012

Human Trafficking Study Group Hears from Advocates

Today at a hearing at the state Capitol, several advocacy groups proposed different ways lawmakers can help human trafficking victims.

Eliza Reock of the Washington D.C.-based Shared Hope International said Georgia actually has some of the nation’s toughest laws involving sex trafficking and cracking down on "johns" seeking child prostitutes.

But Reock said there's room for improvement. She pointed out Georgia still allows law enforcement to charge minors with prostitution.

“Prostitution is one of the only crimes that I know of that the crime can actually be charged against the victim of the crime and that’s especially egregious when we’re talking about victims of human trafficking and children.”

Reock said the focus should be on helping victims and providing protective services against traffickers.

One of the questions raised at the hearing was how much trafficking is actually going on. Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter said reliable data is difficult to find.

“I’m having a hard time getting my head around what we’re talking about here. Each individual deserves treatment, dignity, and there should be resources available but beyond that we’ve never gotten to – how many resources need to be available?”

State Representative Ed Lindsey, chair of a state human trafficking study group, said the evidence is clear.  

"Some may call it anecdotal, I call it circumstantial and the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that we've got an enormous plague in this state of human trafficking and it's time for us to take it seriously."

The study group is currently developing policy recommendations for next year’s legislative session.