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Making Progress in South Carolina

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Human trafficking along the Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH — People buying and selling other people like commodities.  When you think of human trafficking, you might think of a foreign country but it happens along the Grand Strand andPee Dee.  Local experts reveal what really goes on.

“I was a typical American girl in a typical American neighborhood,” said Holly Smith, sex trafficking survivor.  “I was 14.”

Holly was at the mall with friends when she met a man who convinced her to runaway.

He then forced her into prostitution.

What happened to Holly is called human trafficking.

“Human trafficking, simply put, is modern slavery,” said Betty Houbion, human trafficking advocate.  “It’s the buying and selling of people.  It’s making money off of those sales.”

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

S.C. AG, state cops present legislative wish list

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There is also a proposal that would clear up the state’s prohibition on human trafficking, a law Wilson said is needed to bring South Carolina in line with other states in how the problem is handled. If the proposal were to become law, trafficking victims could bring civil lawsuits against their perpetrators and also seek restitution for costs of psychological treatment or court costs.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Beaufort County solicitor lends support to human trafficking bill

Beaufort County’s top prosecutor has joined the state attorney general in urging passage of a human-trafficking bill that has been stuck in committee since last year.The bill criminalizes sex trafficking, gives prosecutors the power to seize the assets and property of convicted traffickers, and provides much-needed support to victims, who often suffer in silence, 14th Circuit Solicitor Duffie Stone said.Stone and S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson were among the speakers Tuesday at a press conference in Columbia to lobby for House Bill 3757, introduced in February by state Rep. Nelson Hardwick, R-Surfside Beach. The bill was referred last year to the House Judiciary Committee, where it remains.”Human trafficking is a clandestine crime, meaning it often goes underreported or sometimes totally unreported in many cases,” Stone said. “The people running these organizations do so the same way (former Mafia boss John) Gotti did — through fear and intimidation.”

Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

Surfside Beach’s Hardwick one of many gathering at Statehouse to work on human trafficking issues

He has introduced a House bill to strengthen penalties for human trafficking and increase awareness about people being trafficked for sex and labor.

“It happens all over the country. It’s a serious problem,” Hardwick said. “We’re trying to elevate the awareness and to get tougher penalties. It’s undercover — a lot of people don’t want to talk about it.”

Tuesday, though, people will spend the day talking about human trafficking during an awareness event planned at the Statehouse in Columbia, said Betty Houbion, a community activist and organizer.

The S.C. Lobby Day to End Human Trafficking will see people from across South Carolina gather at the Statehouse to implore state legislators to address critical anti-trafficking legislation, she said. Experts from the Polaris Project, a national organization working to stop human trafficking, will be there, too.

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