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For immediate release: January 11, 2024
Contact: press.office@exec.ny.gov
Email: press.office@exec.ny.gov
Phone: 5184748418

Governor Hochul Proclaims January ‘Human Trafficking Awareness Month’, Directs State Landmarks to be Illuminated Blue Tonight to Honor Victims and Survivors

 
January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
 
Announces Social Media Campaign to Educate the Public and Raise Awareness of Human Trafficking
 
Read the Proclamation Here
 
Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a proclamation designating January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in New York State and directed landmarks across the state be illuminated blue tonight, January 11, to honor victims and survivors. January 11 is marked annually as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Governor Hochul also announced a month-long social media campaign to educate the public and raise awareness of human trafficking.
 
“I stand firm in our commitment to eradicate the abhorrent crime of human trafficking,” Governor Hochul said. “By illuminating landmarks in blue tonight, we honor the courage of victims and survivors, sending a powerful message of solidarity and support. Together, we can build a safer, more vigilant society that protects the vulnerable and ensures a brighter future for all.”
 
“New York stands with the victims and survivors of human trafficking,” said Lieutenant Governor Delgado. “We will continue to do everything we can to combat this horrific crime and ensure that survivors have the support needed to recover. You are never alone. Even on the darkest nights, you can always find the light.”
 
Throughout the month, state agencies that are part of the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking will be sharing information on social media describing real-life scenarios that are examples of sex and labor trafficking as part of Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness among potential victims and connecting them with services. The state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA), and state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) co-chair of the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, which includes representatives from 11 state agencies and aims to improve the state’s response to sex and labor trafficking.
 
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, “As co-chair of the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, OTDA remains committed to assisting individuals who have been subjected to trafficking and quickly connecting them with the appropriate trauma-informed supports and services needed to help them stay safe and stabilize their lives. Governor Hochul has worked to bring greater focus on assisting human trafficking survivors and we are grateful for her continued support of the task force’s work. Bringing heightened public awareness to this issue can not only lead to the increased detection of instances of human trafficking but can aid in prevention efforts as well.”
 
DCJS Commissioner Rossana Rosado said, “My agency is proud to co-chair the state’s Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking and remains deeply committed to ensuring law enforcement professionals have the training and information they need to identify and prosecute traffickers, and assist victims and survivors. Together, we will continue to make clear that New York State is no place for the illegal trafficking and exploitation of people. We are grateful to Governor Hochul for recognizing January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month to bring attention and awareness to this critical issue.”
 
The following landmarks will be illuminated tonight to mark National Human Trafficking Awareness Day:
 
·         One World Trade Center
·         Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
·         Kosciuszko Bridge
·         The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
·         State Education Building
·         Alfred E. Smith State Office Building
·         Empire State Plaza
·         State Fairgrounds - Main Gate & Expo Center
·         Niagara Falls
·         Grand Central Terminal - Pershing Square Viaduct
·         MTA LIRR - East End Gateway at Penn Station
·         Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal
·         Moynihan Train Hall
·         Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park
 
The Division of Criminal Justice Services, and Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance play a key role in helping trafficked individuals access services. DCJS receives referrals from law enforcement, community-based organizations and other entities and in consultation with OTDA, confirms individuals as human trafficking victims and survivors. This confirmation process provides them with access to critical services and support. In addition to collaborating with state partners, DCJS works with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders and provides technical assistance and training on human trafficking. OTDA also operates the Response to Human Trafficking Program (RTHP), which provides trauma informed services to help keep victims and survivors of human trafficking safe and to provide supports as they work to rebuild their lives.
 
Last fall, Governor Hochul signed multiple pieces of legislation focused on aiding individuals impacted by human trafficking and protecting New Yorkers. More information on the legislation can be found here.
 
Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Executive Director Kelli Owens said, "Many individuals who are exposed to human trafficking are more vulnerable to experiencing another form of gender-based violence in the future. Too often, we see individuals trafficked by their partner as a tactic of power and control, and for the perpetrators own economic benefit. OPDV is proud to sit on the Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking to help ensure that New York State is assisting survivors through a survivor-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive lens. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for recognizing the importance of this day and for protecting New Yorkers.”
 
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Human trafficking of any kind, including labor trafficking, has no place in New York State. At the Department of Labor, it is our mission to ensure that the rights of all workers, regardless of immigration status, are fully protected under the law. Our Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs stands ready to assist and support victims of labor trafficking, including helping them recover their fair and rightful wages.”
 
New York State Office of Children and Family Services Acting Commissioner Suzanne Miles-Gustave said, “Too often, precious children are the target of human traffickers. Youth with histories of child welfare involvement and those who experience homelessness are especially susceptible to predatory adults. In its most insidious form, child sex and labor trafficking inflict untold physical, emotional and mental damage. I applaud Governor Hochul for taking such a strong stand against these horrendous crimes and devoting more resources to protect vulnerable New Yorkers. I’m also proud that our division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success has been integral to the State’s prevention strategies and providing aid to our brave survivors.”
 
Office of Victim Services Acting Director John Watson said, “Individuals who have been victims of trafficking are eligible for a comprehensive array of compensation benefits. The Office of Victim Services works closely with other state agency partners to ensure we have the necessary information to determine eligibility and reimburse victims and survivors for costs they have incurred as a result of the crime. We are proud to participate in the state’s Interagency Task Force to further improve the state’s response to, and prevention of, trafficking.”
 
The National Human Trafficking Hotline operates 24/7 and help is available in more than 200 languages: Call 888-373-7888 or Text 233733 (“BeFree”).
 
The New York State Office of Victim Services funds and supports 239 victim assistance programs across the state that provide essential services, such as crisis counseling, support groups, case management, emergency shelter, civil legal help, and relocation assistance, among other assistance, to victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes, and their families. More information can be found at www.ovs.ny.gov/connect.
 
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