A resolution in the state House to designate January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month has passed. It comes as members of the body prepare to look at seven bills to combat human trafficking.

The FBI ranks human trafficking as the world’s third largest criminal activity, according to State Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks). She notes the problem exists throughout the world, including in Pennsylvania.

Rep. Wendi Thomas taking the oath of office for the 2019-20 Legislative Session.

“It has become a $150 billion industry, destroying lives of its victims of all ages and genders, but disproportionately impacting women and young girls,” said Thomas. “This is a global threat that affects all nations.”

Thomas, who sponsored the resolution, says the Pennsylvania National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 275 cases with 621 victims in 2018. It also found more than 100 businesses engaged in human trafficking.

The internet has also become a tool for predators, according to Thomas. She called upon other legislators to work on protecting victims and prevent more from becoming victims.

“We will have the opportunity to pass seven human trafficking bills,” Thomas said. “I hope you will join me in supporting these bills. And if we pass them, we can call Pennsylvania a national leader fighting human trafficking.”

State representatives will unveil and detail the bill package at a press conference Wednesday morning. Supporters say it is “designed to guarantee the safety of victims, protect their privacy, and make it safer for them to testify against their abusers.”