Sen. Renee Unterman Challenges States to Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws at NCSL Forum

ATLANTA (December 7, 2012) – Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) recently challenged states to strengthen human trafficking laws at the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Fall Forum at the White House in Washington, D.C. The NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the nation’s 50 states, its commonwealths and territories.

“I am deeply appreciative of the NCSL for hosting this meaningful discussion and recognizing the continued need for protecting women and children against human trafficking,” said Sen. Unterman. “It is my sincere hope that legislators and interested stakeholders will be empowered with the tools and resources necessary to bring about positive reform in their respective states.”

During her visit, Sen. Unterman participated in a series of events aimed at combating human slavery, including the NCSL human trafficking forum, a luncheon with actress and former U.N. goodwill ambassador Mira Sorvino and a meeting with one of the nation’s leading human trafficking advocacy organizations, Polaris Group. While there, Sen. Unterman encouraged state lawmakers and interested stakeholders to work collaboratively in their efforts to end all forms of sexual exploitation.

Mira Sorvino, who has traveled the globe speaking about this issue, called on lawmakers Thursday afternoon to evaluate their state’s human trafficking laws and to determine future legislative action.

Experts estimate that thousands of children under the age of 18 are sexually exploited for commercial gain each year in the United States. Georgia and metropolitan Atlanta in particular, perhaps in large part due to its position as a major U.S. transportation hub, ranks among the top 14 cities in the nation for child prostitution.

Recognizing this growing epidemic, the General Assembly has enacted several pieces of legislation to combat sex trafficking in Georgia. Most recently, the legislature passed HB 200, sponsored by Rep. Ed Lindsey and carried by Sen. Renee Unterman in the Senate. HB 200 was the culmination of efforts between grassroots activists, faith organizations, law enforcement and legislators to combat the commercial exploitation of children in Georgia.  This measure further strengthened protections for the victims of these crimes and increased penalties for individuals found guilty of human trafficking.

Sen. Unterman is also chair of the Senate Joint Human Trafficking Committee, which is tasked with evaluating potential legislation for 2013. The Senate Joint Human Trafficking Study Committee will hold its first meeting on Thursday, December, 21 at the Georgia State Capitol.

For Immediate Release:
December 7, 2012

For Information Contact:
Jennifer Yarber, Deputy Director
Shawna Mercer,Sr. Communications Specialist