Posters offering victims of human trafficking a way out will soon be posted in rest area bathrooms along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway as part of a multi-agency initiative to help those being trafficked.
State Sen. Troy Singleton, D-Burlington, announced the posters — printed in English and Spanish and featuring national human trafficking hotline numbers — at a forum by the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Mount Laurel Thursday evening.
He said the idea was first suggested by a constituent, Judi Worgess, a founding member of In His Image, a new group that aims to stamp out human trafficking in Burlington County.
“We believe these signs will be life-giving, resulting in the rescue of many victims, as a stop in a public restroom may be the only time that a victim is separated from his [or] her captor,” Worgess said in a statement Thursday.
The posters will be displayed near bathroom sinks in 48 bathrooms in 17 rest areas along the two major toll highways, state officials said. The initiative is a partnership between Singleton’s office, In His Image Justice Coalition, the state Attorney General’s Office, The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and the New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said the posters will be seen by millions of people each year.
“They are designed to speak directly to those who may be looking for a way out of a trafficking situation, as well as to those who may have witnessed any form of trafficking; for those who may need immediate emergency assistance, as well as those who need information or longer term support,” Grewal said in a statement.
Singleton addressed the issue at the “Hiding in Plain Site” forum about human trafficking in South Jersey held at Rowan College at Burlington County Thursday.
“It is no secret that human trafficking occurs across our nation, and here in New Jersey. Victims are often hiding in plain sight, and we need to do everything we can to let them know that help is just a phone call away,” said Singleton.
Anyone who is a victim of human trafficking or suspects someone is being held against their will can call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-3737-888 or text BE FREE (233733).