Agencies to shine spotlight on human trafficking

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Program at Chester County Historical Society designed to raise awareness

The Chester County Historical Society will present “Facing the Monster: Slavery Then and Now,” a program designed to raise attention during Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

State Sen. Andy Dinniman will be one of several speakers Wednesday evening at “Facing the Monster: Slavery Then and Now,” a public event supporting National Human Trafficking Awareness Month at the Chester County Historical Society.

Dinniman said he will discuss new legislation and efforts to combat human trafficking, including Act 197 of 2012, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act, which took effect last month.

“Due to the covert nature of human trafficking and a lack of awareness, accurate statistics are difficult to obtain, but there is no doubt that modern day slavery is taking place in Pennsylvania and our region,” Dinniman said. “We’ve taken some important steps to crack down on this fast-growing criminal enterprise, but more needs to be done. A key part of the battle is bringing the public’s attention to the problem and shedding light on the scourge of human trafficking.”

Wednesday’s event, which begins at 7 p.m., will also feature a program on two teens who escaped slavery  (Delia in Maryland in 1818 and Jaya in India in 2011) by Laurie Rofini, director of Archives and Records Services at the Chester County Historical Society, and Chester County resident Carol Metzker, author of “Facing the Monster: How One Person Can Fight Child Slavery.”

Last session, the legislature unanimously passed Act 197, which requires travel centers (airports, train and bus stations), as well as certain businesses, like adult clubs where human contact takes place behind closed doors and bars and hotels found to be drug-related nuisances by the Pennsylvania State Police to post a human trafficking hotline poster in a clearly visible area, Dinniman said. The law also calls for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to work to provide support services, including housing, health care, and counseling to the victims of human trafficking.

Dinniman, the prime co-sponsor of Senate Bill 75, said that legislation would improve Pennsylvania’s human trafficking laws so that they can be better utilized by law enforcement. The current legal definition of human trafficking is vague, making it difficult to  prosecute perpetrators, Dinniman said.

The Chester County Historical Society located at 225 N. High St. in West Chester. It is open to the public with a suggested minimum donation of $5 for Dawn’s Place, a Pennsylvania residence for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

The event is sponsored by the Chester County Historical Society, the Chester County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, the Chester County Women’s Commission, the Quaker End Modern Slavery Working Group, the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, Dawn’s Place, and the Rotary. For more information, contact Dinniman’s district office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail acirucci@pasenate.com.

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