CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Delegate Kayla Kessinger, R-Fayette, today led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to raise awareness about human trafficking through participation in the Shine a Light on Slavery Day campaign.
February 23 has been designated as Shine a Light on Slavery Day by the End It Movement, a global organization that works to raise awareness and funding for projects related to reducing human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is happening all over our country,” Kessinger said. “When 17,000 people are trafficked every year in the United States, we have to do something to raise awareness and prevent such a heinous crime.”
The House of Delegates on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to toughen the state’s human trafficking laws. House Bill 2318 will increase penalties for instances of human trafficking in West Virginia, and strengthen the legal definitions of what constitutes human trafficking and its associated crimes in order to help law enforcement and prosecutors better combat these horrendous acts.
“It’s great to see our state making an effort to end human trafficking,” Kessinger said. “This is an issue a lot of West Virginians care about, and by addressing it face-on, the Legislature can make real progress towards reducing the amount of trafficking that is occurring.”
There are 50 million people trafficked every year across the globe, making human trafficking the third-largest criminal industry in the world. Eighty percent of those trafficked are women and children.
Many delegates participated in Shine a Light on Slavery Day by marking a red “X” on their hands and displaying it during the House floor session and committee meetings. House Bill 2318 has been sent to the Senate for its consideration.