January 11, 2014, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking is a brutal, complex and widespread crime in which vulnerable individuals are sold into commercial sex and/or forced to engage in activity against their will. Many of the victims are children. In fact, the average age of children forced into the sex trade is between 12 and 14. Human trafficking happens right here in Georgia and is often perpetrated in plain sight.
Attorney General Olens is committed to putting an end to human trafficking in Georgia. He released the following statement in observance of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day:
“Human trafficking is modern day slavery, plain and simple. It robs children of their innocence and dignity. We have made important strides in Georgia against human trafficking with the 2011 passage of a stronger human trafficking law, but the fight is far from over. We must continue to educate our citizens about the atrocities that occur in their own communities and address the problem of demand. Now is the time for action, and I encourage Georgians to take a stand against human trafficking in our state.”
In 2011, Attorney General Sam Olens joined forces with Senator Renee Unterman and Representative Edward Lindsey to advocate for a stronger human trafficking law in Georgia. HB 200 went into effect on July 1, 2011, and the punishment now fits the crime. HB 200:
- Substantially increases the punishment for human trafficking from a possible one year sentence to a minimum of ten years in prison. If the trafficking causes a minor to commit sex acts by coercion or deception, human traffickers now face 25 years to life in prison, up from maximum sentence of 20 years. Offenders can also be fined up to $100,000.
- Takes the important step of no longer allowing the age of consent (16) or the lack of knowledge of the age of the victim to be used as a defense.
- Authorizes asset forfeiture for property derived from or used in trafficking.
- Provides training for law enforcement.
In 2013, Attorney General Olens launched a public awareness campaign, Georgia’s Not Buying It, targeting demand. View the PSA here.