With Massachusetts now one of only five states left without human trafficking laws, top law-enforcement officials and legislators are continuing a recent blitz to get new legislation passed to protect young women and punish pimps.
Flanked by more than a dozen law enforcement and political leaders Thursday, Attorney General Martha Coakley called on State House leaders to pass the recently filed legislation.
Leaders said the issue was one they have been trying to push for at least the last six years. When asked why legislation has lagged, officials said the problem has flown “under the radar” for them and in the public’s perception, and that different priorities took over.
The State House has “a very, very busy agenda with bills passed and things done,” said state Sen. Mark Montigny of New Bedford.
Audrey Porter, a program director at My Life My Choice and a survivor of the commercial sex industry, recounted her time working in the former Combat Zone and compared it to how young teens enter that world now.
“When I was out there I was visible, but today with the Internet, children are hidden in a hotel room and they have no way of anyone finding them,” she said.
Porter and officials said the focus of the bill should be going after the supply and prosecuting the pimps and the “Johns.” “They’re the ones who never get punished,” Porter said.
Coakley added: “We need to be able to fund the remedies for those who are pulled in to this life.”