Gov. Brian Kemp has signed into law a package of legislation aimed at curbing human trafficking.
In front of the Home of Hope at Gwinnett Children’s Center Tuesday, Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp commended the Legislature for passing three bills: SB33, SB34 and HB287.
“This past year has reflected our resilience as a state and as Georgians, and it’s highlighted our responsibility as state leaders to plant seeds that will ensure Georgia remains the best place to live, work and raise a family in the country,” Kemp said. “And of course, doing that requires us to take decisive action to eradicate the sinister crimes and bad actors that threaten our communities, and especially our children.”
Kemp noted that these laws all had bipartisan support in both chambers, and credited his wife for her work on this legislation.
In her statement, the first lady promised to continue her fight to end this modern day slavery and ensure Georgia is a safe haven for victims.
“Each month about 374 girls are sex-trafficked in Georgia,” she said. “The average victim age can be anywhere from 12 to a little over 14-years-old. I want every Georgian and the perpetrators of this evil industry to hear me loud and clear: These are only the most recent steps in the ongoing fight to end human trafficking, and certainly not our last.”
SB33 allows victims of human trafficking to sue their traffickers and anyone who knowingly benefited financially from their victimization. Lawsuits can be filed within 10 years of the offense, or when the victim turns 18 if the victim is a minor. The law also allows the Attorney General to file suits against human traffickers and their associates.
SB34 amends Georgia’s name change statute so human trafficking survivors may change their names privately. Currently, Georgians must file a petition for a name change which requires a public notice in the local paper. The amended law allows victims to file petitions confidentially under a court seal.
HB287 requires schools to include curriculum on human trafficking awareness for students in grades 6 through 12. This law also adds tobacco and vapor products to Georgia’s alcohol and drug awareness education for grades K-12.
All three laws go into effect on July 1, and curriculum on human trafficking and vapor products will be implemented in schools by the end of this year.