Human trafficking is the act of trading human beings in commerce for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, forced marriage, or for the extraction of organs and other body parts, among other purposes.
Human trafficking is a major concern especially in a city with heavy tourism like Miami. According to the Department of Justice, South Florida is the “third-busiest area for sex trafficking in the United States.” The Florida Legislature and Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle have acknowledged this growing concern and have actively taken measures to stop trafficking in Florida.
On a larger scale, the passage of the Safe Harbor Act has revolutionized how victims of human trafficking are treated by the justice system. Prior to the passage of this act, victims of trafficking were treated as criminals and sent to jail. The most significant feature of the Safe Harbor Act is the establishment of safe houses, which provide living quarters for children who have been sexually exploited instead of sending them to jail. Additionally, the Act provides these children with an advocate to accompany them to any meetings and court dates. Safe houses are mandated to provide security, counseling, transportation, food, clothing, health and dental care among other services to sexually exploited children. The Safe Harbor Act directs government institutions to treat sexually exploited children as dependent rather than delinquent. This is a progressive approach to human trafficking and demonstrates a newfound understanding of human trafficking and its traffickers.
On a local scale, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office has established a human trafficking unit. State Attorney Rundle and her unceasing determination and resolve to put an end to human trafficking is the source behind this development. The unit is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Safe Harbor Act and works to successfully prosecute cases dealing with human traffickers. The Miami- Dade Human Trafficking Unit has already had some success after having successfully prosecuted David Salomon on one count of human trafficking involving the commercial sexual exploitation of a minor. Salomon was sentenced to 65 years in prison.
New regulations like the Safe Harbor Act now put the focus on the perpetrators or the traffickers rather than on the victims being forced into the trade. This is one big leap forward towards the end of human trafficking. Putting the traffickers in jail will slowly but surely break down the entire human trafficking industry and protect those that fall victim to the manipulation and abuse of traffickers.