Building Awareness and Giving a Lifeline to Human Trafficking Victims
The State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of New Jersey (NJSPAC)
Issue Area(s): Human Trafficking
Name of Initiative: Human Trafficking Advocacy
Because of its location, transportation network, and diverse population, New Jersey is a hub for all types of human trafficking. Recognizing the severity of the problem, the State Public Affairs Committee of the Junior Leagues of New Jersey, or NJSPAC, selected human trafficking as a key focus and then developed initiatives to build awareness of the problem throughout the state and in its major cities.
Junior Leagues of New Jersey State Public Affairs Committee (NJSPAC):
The Junior Leagues of New Jersey State Public Affairs Committee is composed of representatives of the 3000 members from the eight Junior Leagues in the state who advocate on behalf of women and children in the areas of health, education and the environment. The issue of human trafficking has been one of their key focus areas since 2004 as they became aware of victims and incidents in New Jersey as well as the fact that it is a portal state for this fast-growing version of modern-day slavery.
On the federal level, NJSPAC has worked with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) to improve access to information for victims of human trafficking and has connected regularly with his staff and that of its two U.S. Senators concerning this issue. On a state level, they have been particularly effective in convening stakeholders in the community to take legislative action and advocating for bills which effectively rank NJ as “Most Outstanding” Human Trafficking laws in the country. (Ranking taken from Polaris Project State Ranking).
From 2009 to the present day, NJSPAC has sponsored two statewide conferences on human trafficking at Kean University: Human Trafficking in NJ: Hiding in Plain Sight (May 2009) and Human Trafficking: A Workshop to Find the Next Legislative Solution (November 2010); co-hosted Human Trafficking Awareness Day events at the State House in Trenton and in Bergen County; and became a core member of the NJ statewide HT Task Force (Office of the NJ Attorney General) and the NJ Coalition Against HT. The efforts of NJSPAC volunteers over the years came to fruition in 2013 with the passing of a comprehensive bill, the HT Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act into law. In 2014, NJSPAC participated in a letter writing campaign to educate hotels in Northern Jersey on Human Trafficking. NJSPAC co-chaired the Save Our Adolescence from Prostitution (S.O.A.P.) Human Trafficking Outreach in the Meadowland Area in preparation for the Super Bowl. NJSPAC members continue to be sought after expert speakers for Human Trafficking Education and Awareness.
NJSPAC began legislative enactment for the Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act by coordinating an education meeting with the Monmouth County Police Chiefs and a Home Land Security Agent. In 2015, NJSPAC will expand the educational training to Police Chiefs across the State.
NJSPAC is a member of the NJ Human Trafficking Task Force and its members recently participated in the National Human Trafficking Awareness Day events at the State House in Trenton.
Members of NJ SPAC have spoken passionately about human trafficking on the floor of the Annual Conference of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. for several years, raising awareness of its pervasiveness throughout communities in the Unites States and inspiring other Junior Leagues to take action on this issue.