Attorney General Martha Coakley, along with several lawmakers, on Thursday unveiled legislation to help combat human trafficking in the state.
The legislation would make it a felony to exploit labor or sexual services for profit, with penalties as high as 20 years in state prison. It would go after pimps and focus on providing services to victims of human trafficking.
According to Coakley, young children are often arrested on prostitution charges, when they should be seen as victims.
"We shouldn't be focused on prosecuting them, but understanding that they've been pulled into a wider network. They are being exploited and used," Coakley said.
Audrey Porter, who describes herself as a survivor of the commercial sex industry, was forced into prostitution by a man she thought was her boyfriend.
"You know when I think about this whole thing, I think if it were not for the pimps or the johns, how easy this thing would be to get rid of, but they exist, and they are the ones who never get punished," Porter said.
Coakley said Massachusetts is one of five states in the nation that does not list human trafficking as a felony.
This program aired on January 20, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.