Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world — estimated at $150 billion annually.
Reports indicate 27 million slaves currently exist worldwide and up to 800,000 victims are trafficked in the U.S. annually.
Alabama is not immune with Birmingham being among the six hotspots for trafficking in the Southeast. In fact I-20 is called the “super highway for human trafficking in the United States” and I-85, I-10 and I-65 are other major corridors for trafficking.
The Alabama State House observed April 24 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day following a string of arrests in multiple Morgan and Madison County massage parlors in mid-April.
During a special news conference that day Rep. Merika Coleman (D-Birmingham) and Rep. Terri Collins (R-Decatur) introduced four bills aimed at combatting human trafficking.
Three bills (HB 261, HB 262 and HB 264) passed out of committee unanimously. They all received their second readings on the House floor April 25 and are eligible for debate. HB 260 received a public hearing and was to be voted on by the committee May 1.
HB 260 and HB 261 would mandate human trafficking training on victim identification and trauma-centered care for all health care professionals and new commercial drivers respectively.
HB 262 and HB 264 clarify existing law to ensure potential victims receive the most protection possible.
Reps. Coleman and Collins were joined at the news conference by more than 30 entities involved in combatting human trafficking.
While human trafficking is not a new issue awareness has developed slowly, according to David Pinkleton of End It Alabama.
“Unless you are the trafficker you are against human trafficking but there is still a lot of work to do to combat it,” he said.
The faith community has been a great help in the fight against trafficking, Pinkleton told The Alabama Baptist (TAB).
To learn more about the issue and the new legislation listen to this week’s TAB News on iTunes or anywhere you get your podcasts. The podcast also is archived at www.thealabamabaptist.org/explore/podcasts.
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