Protection and Justice for Trafficking Victims
Junior Leagues of the State of New York State Public Affairs Committee (NYSPAC):
Human trafficking was high on NYSPAC’s legislative agenda in 2006 and NYSPAC members strongly urged members of the New York State Assembly and Senate to enact a strong, comprehensive state law that recognizes human trafficking as a crime, punishes traffickers and establishes services for victims. In May 2007, then Governor Elliott Spitzer signed the legislation to enact the human trafficking bill into law. The following year, NYSPAC successfully advocated for the provision of funding for domestic violence shelter services for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Governor Spitzer signed the legislation into law in September of 2008.
In the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 legislative sessions, NYSPAC joined the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition to advocate for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA). The TVPJA seeks to address child sexual abuse and exploitation, including forcing minors into prostitution in a comprehensive way by enhancing protection for trafficking victims. It increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who are fueling the growth of this massive underground industry and helps prevent re-victimization of trafficking victims in the justice system. The bill also looks to close any gaps and loopholes from the 2007 NYS Human Trafficking law and the 2008 Safe Harbor Law that deal with how prostituted minor children are treated in the justice system.
In 2012, NYSPAC took part in a NYS Assembly roundtable discussion with other service providers and groups, including Safe Horizons, Sanctuary for Families, GEMS, the NYS Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, and Hofstra University, to discuss weaknesses that still exist in NY’s approach to trafficking victims and perpetrators. In Spring 2013, NYSPAC Co-chairs, Lisa Hofflich and Denise Murphy McGraw met privately with Mylan Dinerstein, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, to discuss passage of the TVPJA and how to reconcile its passage with the Governor’s Women’s Equality Act.
During the same time period, NYSPAC launched the successful #peoplearenotforsale social media campaign to support the TVPJA and to raise awareness of trafficking in New York state. NYSPAC took photos of over 100 legislators with a sign reading “People are not for sale. End human trafficking now.” The message went on to be used by various groups to urge the passing of the bill. NYSPAC’s efforts were directly responsible for the signing on of 47 additional bill co-sponsors demonstrating biparitisan of the bill. A gallery of some of the photos can be found here: http://www.tvpja.com/legislators-standing-against-trafficking.html.
Also in 2013, the Junior Leagues of Westchester County held a legislative breakfast panel on the TVPJA -- moderated by MSNBC correspondent Richard Lui -- that included members of the NYS State Assembly and Senate and county representatives. This breakfast attracted over 100 audience members across Westchester County.
In 2014, NYSPAC again worked tirelessly hand-in-hand with TVPJA legislative prime sponsors, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and State Senator Andrew Lanza to pass this bill. Towards the end of session, NYSPAC logged over 100 hours of lobby visits and meetings on the matter. NYSPAC also advocated for $20 million in the NYS budget for unfunded mandates in the Safe Harbor Law.
NYSPAC relaunched their #peoplearenotforsale campaign and promoted the hashtag #girlscantwait on social media to create a sense of urgency for passage of TVPJA. NYSPAC also took part in the NYS Anti-Trafficking Coalition anti-trafficking awareness campaign for the Super Bowl called "Not So Super."
On the federal level, members of NYSPAC, working with Polaris, have met with Senator Kristen Gillibrand and Representative Eliot Engel to discuss support for the Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act (H.R. 1732/S.1823), sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass and Senator Marco Rubio. NYSPAC members also met with Janice Kagutuyan, chief counsel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee minority staff, to discuss issues dealing with trafficking globally, U.S. budget appropriations for human trafficking victims’ services, and the role of women of post-conflict reconstruction. NYSPAC members have also participated in the US Health and Human Service training on human trafficking and attended the 2013 United Nations Interactive Presentation of the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.