Skip Navigation
MarylandToday

Produced by the Office of Strategic Communications

Subscribe Now
Research

Op/Ed: New Law Needed to Prevent and Deter Labor Trafficking

SAFE Center Founder, Members of General Assembly Argue for Bill

By Susan G. Esserman By Wanika Fisher By Susan C. Lee

Annapolis

Photo by iStock

There were 16 million victims of labor trafficking worldwide in 2016, according to the International Labour Organization. Maryland is one of only three states that does not have a labor trafficking statute. Now is the time to change that, wrote Susan G. Esserman, founder and director of UMD's SAFE Center for Human Trafficking Survivors.

Maryland is one of only three states that does not have a labor trafficking statute, and now is the time to pass one, according to Susan G. Esserman, founder and director of the University of Maryland Support, Advocacy, Freedom and Empowerment Center for Human Trafficking Survivors.

Esserman teamed up with State Sen. Susan C. Lee and Del. Wanika Fisher for a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday that discusses how labor trafficking is actually more prevalent than sex trafficking, but the victims who work long hours in inhumane conditions are often under-identified and underreported:

Recently two young women from an African country escaped after being held captive for several years in a large home in the wealthy suburb of Potomac. They were forced to work 18-hour days seven days a week and were paid only 50 cents an hour. The head of the household seized their passports, kept them isolated and threatened them with violence if they tried to escape. The trafficker covered up this abuse through a complex deceptive scheme.

This form of modern day slavery is called labor trafficking. It is generally defined in U.S. federal law, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as the use of force, fraud or coercion to compel the labor or services of a victim. Labor trafficking is a multibillion-dollar criminal industry, and it is happening here in Maryland, throughout the country and around the world.

Read the full opinion piece here.

Topics:

Research

Schools & Departments:

School of Public Policy

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Strategic Communications for the University of Maryland community weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.