Yesterday, the Assembly in Albany met and voted on the Women's Equality Act of 2013 (A.8070) One of the points in the 10 point agenda was to Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws While there are comprehensive laws in place that address human trafficking, thousands of young girls and women still fall victim to sex and labor traffickers each year. The Women's Equality Act includes multiple initiatives that will hold sex and labor traffickers accountable for their crimes and strengthen trafficking prosecutions in the state. Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said, "Every day thousands of vulnerable women and children are trafficked and horrifically exploited, and instead of being protected, these victims are often treated as criminals. We must do everything in our power as legislators to make sure that sex and labor traffickers pay for their crimes and that the victims of such terrible acts are protected, supported and able to move forward with their lives." By creating the "Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act," the legislation strengthens New York's existing human trafficking laws by: increasing the penalties for sex and labor human trafficking; escalating penalties for promoting prostitution and patronizing minors for prostitution; extending the inter-agency task force on human trafficking; requiring human-trafficking training for law enforcement; creating a civil right of action for victims of human trafficking to sue their perpetrators in civil court for damages; and establishing an affirmative defense in prostitution prosecutions if the defendant was herself a sex-trafficking victim. Additionally, the Women's Equality Act expand opportunities for victims of human trafficking to be referred for services by allowing certain providers to directly refer trafficking victims to the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the Department of Criminal Justice Services for human trafficking-related services.