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Florida takes action against a form of modern-day slavery

5:07 PM, Jan 17, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It is called the modern-day slavery - human trafficking has enslaved an estimated two million people across the country and Florida struggles with the problem as well.

Florida is the third largest human trafficking state, according to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

Many of the victims are teenage girls forced into the sex trade. Others end up in massage parlors, farm labor and domestic service.

Florida has strengthened its laws against human trafficking with harsher penalties and stiffer fines.

Earlier this month, a new program took effect called the Safe Harbor Act. It treats those caught up in trafficking as victims instead of criminals.

Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins says that way they can get help from child welfare experts in safe houses instead of going into the juvenile justice system.

"We have now established safe houses across the state to treat these young ladies, most of them are young ladies, when they have been trapped into this horrendous crime and to create an opportunity for them to get their lives back and get freed from the perpetrators who have attacked them and have imprisoned them for years," he said.

Florida's Advocate for Human Trafficking victims Deborah Polston says predators view Florida as one of the best locations to get victims.

Polston, whose own adopted children came from a victim of human trafficking, says Florida is taking positive steps to protect children.

"We are grateful that Florida's leaders are committed to making the state of Florida a place where children can be safe," she said.

First Coast News

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