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February 18, 2013

States considering anti-trafficking laws

OKLAHOMA CITY — The grisly discovery of a 19-year-old woman’s butchered body stuffed inside a duffel bag has helped push human trafficking into the spotlight at the Oklahoma legislature.

At least six trafficking-related proposals are up for consideration by state legislators this year, and 37 other states are looking at more than 200 more, according to the Polaris Project, a nonprofit advocacy group and policy tracker.

The proposals are the latest pieces of a years-long battle against an international, multibillion-dollar trafficking industry that has 27 million victims worldwide in agriculture, domestic work, manufacturing and sex, according to U.S. State Department estimates.

Wyoming would be the 50th state to outlaw the exploitation of children, men and women for forced labor and commercial sex. Oklahoma, Nebraska and other states are looking at bills to protect minors trafficked for sex from criminal charges.

The states and federal government have together enacted almost 200 statutes to punish traffickers and protect their victims, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

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