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By: Yael Katzwer - Staff Writer
SOUTH ORANGE — The South Orange Board of Trustees issued a proclamation at its Dec. 9 meeting recognizing Jan. 11 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Village President Alex Torpey presented the proclamation to Claire Asarnow of the Maplewood-South Orange Hadassah Women’s Organization.
“We commend the South Orange Village Board of Trustees for recognizing the terrible problem of slavery today in our state,” Asarnow said upon receiving the proclamation. “Since human trafficking succeeds best in secret, the Board of Trustees’ action will help to short-circuit this crime as it raises the public’s awareness.
Maplewood Township previously also issued an official proclamation recognizing Jan. 11 at Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
According to a release sent to the News-Record by Asarnow, Hadassah is one of 70 organizations, including law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, as well as volunteer groups, which are part of the New Jersey Coalition against Human Trafficking. Hadassah has 600 members in Maplewood and South Orange, and has more than 300,000 members nationwide.
“New Jersey is unfortunately a prime location for human trafficking as it is on a major transportation corridor,” Asarnow told the News-Record. “Eighty percent of the victims are women or girls, and 50 percent of the victims are young teens. As the Super Bowl approaches, it is especially important that people be aware of possible victims of the human trafficking trade.
The proclamation issued by the BOT calls human trafficking a “borderless crime against individuals that violates the most basic human rights and deprives victims of every shred of personal freedom.”
The proclamation defines human trafficking as when a person is “recruited, harbored, obtained, or exported through force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of sexual or labor exploitation, involuntary servitude, and other types of mental and physical enslavement.”