Human trafficking is a problem in the Garden State. Today, an Assembly panel approved the “Human Trafficking Prevention, Protection and Treatment Act.” The sweeping new bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle. She says her bill is timely because, “The Super Bowl is coming (to New Jersey) in 2014 and we all know that based on statistics from previous games in high venues like that there is a sharp increase in human trafficking.”

Vainieri Huttle says her legislation builds upon nearly a year’s worth of research and consultations with experts and advocates, to crackdown on human trafficking, a crime that is estimated to claim up to 20 million victims worldwide.

The measure would crack down on every aspect of trafficking by revising and expanding the state’s current laws to create a new human trafficking commission, criminalize additional activities related to human trafficking, upgrade certain penalties on existing human trafficking or related crimes, increase protections afforded to victims of human trafficking, and provide for increased training and public awareness on human trafficking issues.

“You may think that it only happens in developing nations or in places of war, but it happens right here in New Jersey,” explains Vainieri Huttle. “In New Jersey, I was astonished, the average age of trafficking of children is 12-years-old.”