By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK, Aug 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - New York became the latest U.S. state on Thursday to allow survivors of human trafficking to hide their addresses, part of an effort to protect them from fear of renewed violence, the governor said.
Under the new law, victims of sexual offenses, stalking and human trafficking can participate in a confidentiality program that lets them keep their location private and use a substitute address provided by the state.
Survivors often try to avoid further violence by moving, and the new measure helps in case a trafficker or attacker tries to find them, officials said.
About 500 cases of human trafficking involving New York were reported in 2018 to a national hotline run by the anti-trafficking group Polaris. Most were cases of sex trafficking.
Polaris logged about 11,000 calls nationwide in 2018.
"Victims of heinous crimes like sexual assault and human trafficking should not have to live in constant fear that their assailant could find and potentially hurt them again," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.
The confidentiality program, once limited to domestic violence victims, allows survivors to hide home, school and work addresses.
"We are providing much needed protections to these survivors," said state Sen. Julia Salazar, the bill's lead sponsor. "This will prevent not just future physical violence, but additional emotional and psychological harm as well."
Most U.S. states have confidentiality programs to protect victims of stalking, domestic violence and sexual assault, and at least six have measures extending the protection specifically to trafficking survivors.
An estimated 400,000 people are believed to be trapped in modern slavery in the United States, according to the Global Slavery Index, published by the human rights group Walk Free Foundation.
They include people doing forced labor, being sex trafficked or in forced marriages.
Globally, the International Labour Organization estimates more than 40 million people are enslaved.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Chris Michaud
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