Washington Post Op-Ed: Criminalize human trafficking in Maryland
Maryland is one of only three states that does not have a labor trafficking statute. UMD SAFE Center Director Susan G. Esserman with Maryland Senator Susan C. Lee (Montgomery County) and Maryland Representative Wanika Fisher (Prince George’s County) co-authored an op-ed published in the Washington Post urging Maryland legislators to pass a new law that would protect victims of labor trafficking. Labor trafficking, while less well-known than sex trafficking, is a form of modern day slavery that keeps victims in servitude, often with little or no pay, by force, fraud or coercion.
Senate Bill 689 and House Bill 734 — known as The Anti-Exploitation Act of 2019 — would criminalize labor trafficking at the state level and enable state prosecutors to hold those who profit off forced labor accountable.
Labor trafficking is a multibillion-dollar criminal industry, and is happening across the globe, throughout the U.S. and here in Maryland. The op-ed leads off with a compelling anecdote about two young women from an African country who recently escaped after being held captive as servants for several years in a large home in the wealthy suburb of Potomac.
The Support Advocacy, Freedom, and Empowerment (SAFE) Center for Human Trafficking Survivors has become part of the School of Public Health as of March 2019.
Formed through the MPowering the State initiative that draws on the complementary strengths of the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) and University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the SAFE Center provides comprehensive legal, case management, mental health, primary medical and economic empowerment services to U.S. and foreign-born adult and child survivors of sex and labor trafficking. The center also engages in research and advocacy to help prevent trafficking and improve survivor services.