sex trafficking

When Rashida Bibi was 16, she left her native Bangladesh and came to Kolkata, India, with the promise of a job as a nanny.

It was a lie. In fact, she was a victim of sex trafficking.

"After giving me shelter for a few days, the family told me that they couldn't keep me and that I had to start working as a prostitute," Bibi says. Tears well up in her eyes when she remembers that moment.

Some 30 years later, Bibi is one of an estimated 11,000 sex workers in Sonagachi, a notorious red-light district in Kolkata.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced more than 80 arrests as the result of an ongoing sting investigation targeted at stopping sex trafficking.

When authorities busted what they say is a multimillion-dollar human-trafficking and prostitution ring in Jupiter last month, law enforcement spoke out against the horrors endured by women taken as literal sex slaves. The trafficking, they said, was not a “victimless crime.”

But nearly two weeks later, the majority of the victims remain behind bars as law enforcement seeks their cooperation in the case.

wp paarz / Flickr

Trying to help human-trafficking victims get a new start in life, Florida lawmakers in 2013 unanimously passed a bill aimed at helping victims expunge records of crimes they might have committed under duress.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office says it’s the first law enforcement agency in Florida to partner with the U.S. Institute Against Human Trafficking to use new software to catch people soliciting sex online -- particularly those looking for child victims.

On 100 acre stretch of land, seven houses sit in various stages of construction. The exposed, wooden beams are decorated with motivational quotes and Bible verses like, "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom” from Corinthians.


A bill that would allow sex-trafficking survivors to sue hotels that turn a blind eye to their abuse is moving in the Florida Senate. Some lawmakers worry that Senate Bill 1044 would create a new area of the law – or grounds for fraud.  Monday the testimony of four survivors moved the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs to a unanimous vote in favor of the measure.

Florida’s U.S. Senators, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, joined 18 other Congressional colleagues in filing bipartisan legislation crack down on websites, which knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking. They’re targeting one website in particular.

The Jacksonville City Council is advancing a bill that would add hotels to the list of businesses required to post human-trafficking awareness signs. The council’s Neighborhoods Community Service, Public Health and Safety committee approved it Monday morning.

A new report on how Florida handles young human trafficking victims is receiving mixed reviews.

A new report states a human trafficking tool used among some state agencies may not be that effective.

The Statewide Human trafficking council welcomed its newest member Monday. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi—who leads the group—introduced the person chosen to replace the former head of the state Department of Health Dr. John Armstrong.

State officials continue to battle human trafficking in the state of Florida. This Session, lawmakers are offering multiple bills that could protect victims and penalize traffickers.

Helping young human trafficking victims and making sure juveniles get the help they need are among the legislative goals of two state agencies that deal with children.

Two southwest Florida men face multiple charges after authorities uncovered a human trafficking operation that led to the rescue of four women.

Signs about human trafficking are going up in places like airports and strips clubs in the new year. The public awareness campaign is now required by Florida law.

Human trafficking is considered to be a form of modern-day slavery. The signs encourage victims who are being exploited for sex or labor to contact a national hotline.

The new law requires the signs to be posted in a wide range of places including highway rest stops, rail stations, and emergency rooms.

The information must be displayed in English and Spanish - and meet size requirements.

  The University of Miami held a public forum on Tuesday about human trafficking in the United States.

 

Program Helping Trafficking Survivors Get Life Back

Sep 29, 2015
WMFE

In the shadow of the Sunshine State’s tourism industry, people are suffering through modern day slavery.

Churches, law enforcement, hospitals and other organizations are joining forces to combat human trafficking through the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force.

The area is a sex trafficking hub because of all of the visitors coming in and out year round, said Sarah Webb, with the Victim Service Center of Central Florida.

New Laws Tackle 'Cyberharassment,' Sex Trafficking

Sep 28, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

It will be illegal to post sexually explicit material without the knowledge of people identified in the images, and criminal penalties will increase to try to help curb sex trafficking, as 27 new Florida laws hit the books Thursday.

Dozens Arrested in Heroin, Sex Trafficking Ring

Sep 22, 2015
WMFE

An investigation into a heroin and sex trafficking ring has ended with the arrest of more than two dozen people. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office made the announcement today after a two-year investigation.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Florida is third in the number of calls to the national human trafficking hotline.

Attorney General Pam Bondi hopes to build on past anti-trafficking efforts with her new Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. She led the panel’s first meeting Monday in Tallahassee.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Florida is ranked third in the nation for the number of calls received by the center’s human trafficking hotline.

Person stands in a lit hall
Wikimedia Commons

Emergency room doctors and nurses are often the only contact victims of human trafficking have with the outside world, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Friday while launching an initiative aimed to train emergency workers how to identify signs of trafficking.

Bills in the House and Senate that would help victims of human trafficking are moving forward, but without a controversial provision that would have allowed judges and social workers to have under-age victims held involuntarily in "safe houses," the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

A Tampa-area man has been sentenced to 34 years in  prison for sex trafficking  on Wednesday after a federal judge ruled that it wasn’t necessary for the defendant to physically beat those under his control, the Tampa Bay Times reports (paywall alert).