On Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards joined other governors across the country in announcing January 2019 as Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“We have to do more to end the heinous crime if sex trafficking,” Edwards said.
In his speech, Edwards identified human trafficking as the country’s 2nd largest, and fastest growing, criminal industry. According to a Feb. 2018 report, there were a total of 681 confirmed or suspected human trafficking victims identified in Louisiana; a 77 percent increase over the previous year. Of those, 356 were juveniles; 76 of them age 12 or younger.
However, while the numbers were shocking, there was good news coming from Louisiana as well.
In 2016, the Shared Hope Initiative named Louisiana as #1 in the nation for sex trafficking laws. “There is no state doing more,” to end human sex and labor trafficking, Edwards said.
In December 2018, Louisiana was the only state to receive a $1.2 million grant from the Department of Justice to end juvenile human trafficking. Louisiana is one of only five states ever to receive such a grant. This is, “yet another sign Louisiana is moving in the right direction,” said Edwards.
“While the numbers are grim, we’re making a difference.”