Pittsburgh, PA – Pittsburgh was recently named one of the top ten cities in the United States for human trafficking, and the House of Representatives is working on a package of bills that would strengthen current laws against human trafficking, give victims better ability to testify in court, and raise awareness.
Part of the reason why Pittsburgh ranks for high on the list of cities with human trafficking is because of the opioid crisis, as well as the positioning near major interstates and highways.
Listen to the interview with Rep. Matt Dowling, a Republican serving Fayette and Somerset Counties.
Building upon the reforms enacted through Acts 105 and 130, House Republicans will be working throughout 2020 on advancing the following measures guaranteeing the safety of victims, protecting their privacy and making it safer for them to testify against their abusers:
· House Bill 161: Reclassifies the trafficking of infants to a first-degree felony.
· House Bill 2174: Prohibits defendants from using a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization as “evidence” in any prosecution related to human trafficking.
· House Bill 2175: Expands the list of offenses where an expert may testify about the dynamics of sexual violence and victim responses to sexual violence.
· House Bill 2176: Strengthens current law by adding certain prohibited activities that, if committed, constitute the crime of unlawful contact with a minor.
· House Bill 2177: Expands the list of sexual offenses requiring offenders to attend and participate in a Department of Corrections program of counseling and therapy designed for incarcerated sex offenders.
· House Bill 2178: Require the courts to consider whether a party or member of that party’s household has been convicted of human trafficking prior to awarding child custody to that party.
· House Resolution 618: Recognizes the month of January 2020 as “National Human Trafficking Awareness Month.”
· Senate Bill 60: Provides for increased penalties regarding human trafficking and patronizing a victim of sexual servitude.
Harrisburg, PA – In the first five years since Pennsylvania’s first comprehensive human-trafficking law (Act 105) took effect in 2014, 586 human-trafficking offenses were charged.
The infographic below highlights key court data including the total number of human-trafficking cases and offenses over the last five years, defendant demographics and the top 10 counties with the highest percentage of human-trafficking cases.
The majority of human trafficking cases in Pennsylvania were filed in Philadelphia.
Victims of human trafficking may:
- Not have access to their ID or travel documents
- Not be in control of their own finances
- Have very few possessions
- Work excessively long/unusual hour with little or no pay
- Not be able to clarify their address/living situation
If you suspect someone is a victim of human trafficking, call 911 or the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.