Puerto Rico needs more effective legislation to halt human trafficking in the U.S. Caribbean territory, Latin superstar Ricky Martin said Monday.
Martin was visiting his native island to present a study conducted by the nonprofit Ricky Martin Foundation, a group advocating children's rights globally.
The 91-page report concludes that sex tourism and human trafficking are serious problems in Puerto Rico, and that the island is used as a transit point for smuggled women and children.
"This is happening on our island," said Martin, a winner of multiple Grammy awards, as he presented the study at the University of Puerto Rico. "We cannot turn our back on the victims."
Luis Cdebaca, director of the U.S. State Department's division of human-trafficking monitoring, praised the singer — perhaps best-known for his "Livin' the Vida Loca" single — for bringing attention to human trafficking and other forms of modern-day slavery. He said traffickers are thriving in Puerto Rico and across the U.S. mainland.
"What we are dealing with is a situation where people are suffering because no one is hearing their voice," he said.
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