WASHINGTON (WJZ)—Using her star power to bring attention to human trafficking, Baltimore native Jada Pinkett Smith is in Washington, D.C. hoping Congress will make laws tougher on offenders.
Andrea Fujii has the story.
From the big screen to Capitol Hill, Baltimore School for the Arts grad Jada Pinkett Smith spoke in front of several members of Congress, including Maryland’s Sen. Ben Cardin.
She’s raising awareness about human trafficking and Proposition 35, a law that would protect sexual exploitation of victims in California.
“This is something that is actually occurring in our country, and in California we have three of the major hot spots when it comes to trafficking,” Pinkett Smith said.
A recent WJZ investigation found there are at least 20,000 human trafficking cases a year in the United States.
Human trafficking is illegal in Maryland but prosecutors say several loopholes can sometimes make it hard to prosecute.
Lydia and her children were brought to Maryland from Asia as household slaves.
“I was threatened and worst I was more scared for my kids because each day I came home with scary feelings that I wouldn’t see my kids,” she said.
Pinkett Smith says she hopes Congress will delegate more money to programs that prevent trafficking and help victims like Lydia once they’re found.
“Fighting slavery doesn’t cost a lot of money. The costs of allowing it to exist in our nation and abroad are much higher,” Pinkett Smith said.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reports that from January through March of this year there were 22 reports of human trafficking in Baltimore alone.
Pinkett Smith’s husband Will Smith and daughter Willow joined her on Capitol Hill.