After signing Massachusetts' anti-human trafficking bill into law yesterday in his office at the State House, Governor Deval Patrick said, "it has been a long time trying to pass a more modern, more focused, more effective law to deal with a devastating issue that effects all corners of the Commonwealth."
Indeed, for six years, legislators like Senator Mark Montigny and non-profits like the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) have worked to help stop the spread of international sex trafficking with a strong bill in Massachusetts. When the process began, Massachusetts was among the first states in the nation to address the growing crisis. But now, Massachusetts is the 47th state to finally adopt an anti-human trafficking bill into law.
Even so, as Senator Montigny, the Governor, and others noted, the law now propels Massachusetts to the forefront of both prosecution and victim protection. "This law sets a new standard in the nation," Senator Montigny said. "Trafficking is enslaving another human being, and this bill puts those people in jail, but it also remembers the victims."
Attorney General Martha Coakley also offered words of praise for the bill's comprehensive approach, and for the coalition that helped see all its provisions onto the governor's desk. "A true partnership of government and the not-for-profit sector made this bill possible," she noted.
"The victim protections, including the establishment of a Victims Trust Fund to help with the long process of rehabilitation, make the bill a far more effective tool for dealing with this international problem, which often ensnares young immigrants in a dreadful spiral of abuse," said Eva Millona, Executive Director at MIRA. "We are very pleased that the bill addresses both sides of this vital issue, and that the issue has had the support of Attorney General Coakley, Governor Patrick, Senator Montigny, and leadership on both sides of the aisle. It was a long trip, but now we can finally begin the real work of providing relief to victims and punishment to abusers, and begin to end this international nightmare."