A short while ago, an especially dark secret of Portland, OR, was revealed: the city has a human trafficking problem. However, on Feb. 11, the state’s House took its first step in the right direction by unanimously approving a bill that will mark the start of Oregon’s fight against sex trafficking. House Bill 3623 permits distribution of human-trafficking awareness stickers by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to 11,000 businesses throughout the state.
Let’s recap for a moment why Portland, in particular, has such a significant human trafficking problem. Key word: location. Two major interstates and two rivers provide a prime spot for any business. Add in certain key ingredients, such as a legalized sex industry, weak laws and enforcement efforts, as well as a significant homeless and seasonal farm-worker population and voilà: a city has itself a fairly tasteless recipe for widespread sex trafficking.
Under Oregon’s new bill, a nonprofit organization will supply the stickers, which feature a human trafficking helpline number, to statewide business that sell liquor. The stickers will be mailed with license-renewal letters that the businesses receive regardless -– meaning, this effort will require no extra cost from the state. Pretty smart, Oregon, pretty smart.
While Portland has a long way to go in tackling forced prostitution, this new state legislation is a positive and significant step in the right direction. Lawmakers have clearly acknowledged the issue and shown that they are willing to address it. To which we can only say, bravo. And, carry on.
Photo credit: Darin Barry