Human trafficking issue highlighted at meeting

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - State Senator Gale Candaras spoke before the World Affairs Council of Western Massachusetts Monday to discuss legislation passed in 2011 concerning human trafficking and bringing those behind it to justice.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Sen. Candaras told 22News that human traffic is a “human tragedy” in western Massachusetts, Massachusetts as a whole, the U.S., and the entire world.

The Wilbraham Democrat said that prostitution is one of the chief concerns with human trafficking, and in the next decade will be more profitable than the drug trade. She says that the way those in the sex trade are viewed has changed. Prostitutes were once criminalized – now, she said, they are viewed as victims.

“We have a huge problem with homeless youth, and it’s ultimately the traffickers look for people who are powerless and poverty-stricken and homeless,” Candaras said.

She told 22News that the movement of migrant workers from South America in Massachusetts and nationwide is also a human trafficking concern. Right now, the state’s task force on human trafficking is still gathering information to better understand the problem.

The Senator said that Monday’s meeting is a way to raise awareness of the new legislation and the discussion on what lawmakers and law enforcement can do to stop human trafficking.

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