Stopping Traffic: Human Trafficking Notification Act to take effect

June 30, 2016

By Lindsay Baywol

“Human trafficking (n): “organized criminal activity in which human beings are treated as possessions to be controlled and exploited (as by being forced into prostitution or involuntary labor).”

This year alone, 74 human trafficking cases were reported in Michigan, and there have been 735 victims determined since 2007, according to data released by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

On July 4, the Human Trafficking Notification Act — signed by Governor Snyder in April 2016 — will take effect. The law requires all welcome centers, rest areas, local bus and rail transportation services, public airports, adult entertainment establishments and entities that own property that has been found by a court to constitute a public nuisance due to acts of prostitution or human trafficking to post the National Human Trafficking Hotline number on its premises.

The posters’ required language states: “If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether the activity is commercial sex, housework, farm work, or any other activity, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888–373–7888 or text 233733 to access help and services. The victims of human trafficking are protected under U.S. laws and the laws of this state.”

The act was passed in efforts to further increase visibility of important helpline information, to increase reporting on human trafficking, and ultimately to further prevent human trafficking from occurring in the first place.

“Michigan has some of the strongest policies in the nation to help support trafficking victims and prevent this horrible crime,” Snyder said. “Further increasing the visibility of important help line information and national support services goes one step further in encouraging an end to this dangerous and appalling practice.”

As Governor, Snyder has taken other steps to eliminate Human Trafficking in the state. In 2014, he appointed members to the Human Trafficking Commission, which is designed to review assistance services for human trafficking victims, increase public awareness on human trafficking, and collect data and analyze information in regards to human trafficking in Michigan.

According to the Commission’s 2013 Report on Human Trafficking, each year as many as 17,500 people are trafficked within the United States. And when the FBI conducted its seventh “Operation Cross Country” raid to liberate victims of sex trafficking across the United States, more pimps were arrested in metro Detroit than in any other US city involved in the crackdown.

Data released by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that since 2007, the center has received 2,639 calls from Michigan. However, that data does not provide a concrete number of human trafficking victims within the state, and it is estimated that the actual number of victims within the state is much higher.

Still, the Human Trafficking Commission is working to improve data collection in regards to the number of human trafficking victims within Michigan in order to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of prevention programs.

To continue to help in human trafficking prevention, Michiganders are asked to not keep the issue quiet. Residents are urged to talk with friends on the issue, to speak out and not tolerate ignorance on the subject, and to report instances of human trafficking by contacting the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1–888–3737–888. More information on the efforts of the Human Trafficking Commission is also available at wwww.Michigan.gov/AG.

NOTE: The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), Wage and Hour Division in partnership with the Attorney General’s office and the Michigan State Police developed and distributed the posters and requirements of the act to the entities. Downloadable posters along with Frequently Asked Questions can be found under the “Human Trafficking Notification” section on the Wage and Hour website at www.michigan.gov/wagehour.

Author Lindsay Baywol is a member of Governor Rick Snyder’s Executive Office internship program.