President signs bill to crack down on online human trafficking - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

President signs bill to crack down on online human trafficking

President Donald Trump has signed H.R. 1865 into law. (Source: AP) President Donald Trump has signed H.R. 1865 into law. (Source: AP)
Mary Martinez at Lilypad speaking about the horrors of trafficking (Source: WALB) Mary Martinez at Lilypad speaking about the horrors of trafficking (Source: WALB)
District Attorney Edwards speaking about the Bill and what it will do for the community (Source: WALB) District Attorney Edwards speaking about the Bill and what it will do for the community (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Human trafficking is a growing problem in the United States, none more so than in Georgia.

Lawmakers believe it is among the largest growing criminal activities in the state and every city is on the radar.

"I think that so many people think that we are not in a large metropolitan area that sex trafficking doesn't happen here," Lily Pad Executive Director Mary Martinez Allen. "It does happen here. Atlanta is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking, well we are just three hours south."

The Lily Pad aids victims of abuse and provides services to kids who are in foster care.

Martinez said she has seen some of the horrors of trafficking.

"We had one of our people that work here trafficked in our lobby as we are providing services to her child," said Martinez. "So, it does happen here, it's a very real problem. It's so easy to access anybody online. You can pretend whoever you want to be."

Last year, there were more than 3,000 reported cases of sex trafficking in the US and more than one-third of them were minors. 

A new bill will allow those victims, along with all 50 states to go after those who host ads on their websites.

"In certain instances, it will be allowed that a civil lawsuit can be brought against someone who puts a child or someone else who's being exploited by a sex trafficker through the website to sue the provider," said Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards.

Martinez believes this will make a difference in the lives of those she works with in Southwest Georgia and around the country.

"It's so important as technology changes, for our laws to change," said Martinez. "To make different sanctions for things that are happening now."

If you or someone you know is involved in any form of human trafficking, you can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888. 

There are also state resources for child victims of sex exploitation.

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