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New law focuses on helping trafficking victims

Posted: 8:03 PM, Dec 30, 2015
Updated: 2015-12-30 23:57:21-05
Posters are going up in adult businesses, airports and other places where human trafficking victims might see them throughout Florida.
 
They are aimed at combating sex trafficking.
 
The FBI says Florida ranks third when it comes to human trafficking.
 
A new state law goes into effect Jan. 1 requiring adult businesses and other locations to display posters with telephone numbers and other information to assist potential human trafficking victims.  
 
“Taping up a sign is not a burden,” said Joe Redner, who owns Tampa strip club Mons Venus.
 
He said he put up posters in the business’ dressing room and restrooms more than four months ago.
 
Employees have also received training from the Department of Homeland Security in how to recognize human trafficking victims.
 
Redner said he always screens job applicants to make sure they aren’t victims.
 
“We'll ask them questions about how they got here and look at their IDs and things like that. We don't like people who make slaves out of other people,” Redner said.
 
Neither does the Florida Dream Center, which provides clothing, housing and support services to more than a hundred local sex trafficking victims.
 
“They have no identification. They don't speak the language. They don't know where they are,” said Florida Dream Center President Bill Losasso.
 
He said the law requiring the new posters could provide victims with a means to escape.
 
“If you happen to run out of a facility and you don't know what city you're in, but you've got a phone number, you can call,” said Losasso.
 
But Lasasso said that foreign born workers at dozens of massage parlors in Tampa Bay may never see them.
 
We visited several massage businesses that had ads posted Wednesday on the adult website Backpage, including one where we previously saw laundry drying on a clothesline.
 
None of the employees we talked to seemed to be familiar with the new law.
 
The businesses have until Friday to post the new signs.
 
It will then be up to individual counties to enforce the law and impose civil fines on those businesses which violate it.
 
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