NJJN Staff, New Jersey Jewish News
In recognition of Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Jan. 11, the NJ Senate and General Assembly jointly issued a proclamation by Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto that was presented to the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking in a ceremony at the Statehouse in Trenton by Sweeney and State Sen. Nellie Pou (D-Dist. 35).
Statements were delivered by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37), Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Dist. 21), and Sens. Ronald Rice (D-Dist. 28) and Diane Allen (R-Dist. 7).
The coalition is made up of over 100 organizations working together to bring an end to human trafficking through education, advocacy, and assistance to survivors. Among the members of the coalition, which is convened by the Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, are several synagogues and Jewish organizations, including the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, NJ sections of National Council of Jewish Women, Northern NJ Region of Hadassah, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish Women’s Foundation of NJ, Rachel Coalition, and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.
The proclamation states: “The NJ State Senate and General Assembly honor the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking and urge all citizens to participate fittingly in the observance of Human Trafficking Awareness Day….”
The document reaffirms the coalition’s efforts “to raise awareness of human trafficking, to promote opposition to this horrific crime, to support survivors, and to encourage prevention efforts.”
CRC director Melanie Roth Gorelick, who serves as coalition convener, said, “It is through the strong relationship between advocates, service providers, law enforcement officials, and legislators that New Jersey is one of the leading states in anti-human trafficking efforts.”
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Dist. 37) said she is “proud to have sponsored groundbreaking legislation that has already resulted in the state’s first guilty plea and a $25,000 fine to the Human Trafficking Survivor Assistance Fund.” The awareness day, she said, “reminds us that we need to be consistent in our fight to end this modern-day slavery. It is important that we help victims become survivors and give law enforcement the tools they need to prosecute traffickers.”
Pou, a supporter of the 2013 legislation, said, “It is up to us legislators and every NJ citizen to be aware that human trafficking is happening in our states and to do what we can to stop it.”
At the NJ Human Trafficking Summit, cosponsored by the coalition and Church Abolition Network and held in January in Wayne, the coalition presented the 2015 Abolitionist Award to Mayors James Barberio of Parsippany-Troy Hills and David Mayer of Gloucester Township. They were recognized for collaborating with the coalition in support of the resolution “Urging Local Officials to Provide Leadership in Ending Human Trafficking” at the 100th annual NJ State League of Municipalities Conference in November.