By LAURA BOHANNON
Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan ranks seventh nationally in reports of human trafficking, and a lawmaker wants to give prosecutors more tools to combat those crimes. Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, has introduced a bill that would allow certified experts to testify about telltale signs of deviant social behavior demonstrated by human trafficking victims.
Bringing in experts to testify about a victim’s behavior allows judges and juries to receive informed opinion that the victim has, in fact, been subject to human trafficking. Human trafficking is defined as forcing or deceiving a person to perform labor or a commercial sex act, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline website, which is run by Polaris, a nonprofit group fighting slavery. “It’s an epidemic,” Lucido said, of people buying other people. “We know why they’re buying them, but who are the people buying them?” Lucido said.
Imagine being treated as a slave and being manipulated into thinking there is no way out. Imagine not knowing who to turn to, or where to go for help. Human trafficking reaches small corners of the earth, and is a problem that agencies and people are fighting to eliminate in Lansing and Michigan as a whole on a daily basis. Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, and Sen. Bill Cassidy introduced a bi-partisan bill known as the Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015 that could change the lives of human trafficking victims in America. The bill intends to assist health care professionals in better recognizing possible signs of human trafficking in patients by awarding grants to schools of medicine that teach the signs of human trafficking and creating a training program for health care professionals to better identify victims.
Peters has been vocal about human trafficking issues in Michigan and has worked alongside the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force to learn more about the broader issue.
By CHEYNA ROTH
Capital News Service
LANSING — Criminals who sell victims for sex or labor leave marks that are rarely noticeable to the average person, but doctors and nurses have a unique advantage to spot these red flags and intervene — if they are properly trained. This training requirement, to spot and properly respond to patients who show signs of human trafficking, was implemented by Michigan legislation that took effect in January. Under the new law, the state Department of Community Health, with a consulting board, will establish standards to train healthcare professionals in identifying and reporting human trafficking. Within two years, this training will be added to requirements for anyone licensed or registered under the public health code. This legislation comes from growing recognition that human trafficking is a problem throughout Michigan.