WASHINGTON, D.C.–The last place you would ever want your child to end up would be on the streets, as a prostitute. But, it happens, and even in Mississippi, where the FBI made rescues recently. Now a new bill being introduced by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) would tighten penalties for pimps and traffickers and provide more care for victims.
Sometimes when children are rescued from a trafficking situation, they are put in the lockup and treated just like prostitutes who are doing it of their own free will. Wicker said this bill would change that and treat them more like victims, in a situation like the drug courts, where they are treated, supervised and allowed back into their homes.
“Detention alone does not amount to rescue,” said Wicker. “This provision would put the well-being of the victim first, providing an opportunity for victims to return home and undergo treatment. These minors should be considered victims but are often treated as offenders and fail to receive the adequate counseling and support they need.”
It’s modeled after Hawaii’s “girls courts” and the federal drug court system.
The bill is called the “End Trafficking Act of 2014,” (S. 2564).
“Every state in America has been affected by human trafficking,” said Wicker. “Each year, thousands of people in this country – through no fault of their own – are forced into modern-day slavery and robbed of their basic freedoms. It is an ugly and evil crime that disproportionately affects women and young girls. This legislation addresses the complex issues associated with this war on women, what drives it, and enables victims to receive the help they deserve.”
The bill also focuses on both traffickers and buyers by stressing the need for strict enforcement of laws already on the books that prohibit the purchase of sex with minors; providing longer statutory limitations for child victims to file a civil suit against their trafficker; and prosecuting those who distribute or benefit financially from commercial advertising that promotes prostitution.
“Fighting human trafficking within our borders will not completely solve the problem,” Wicker concluded. “More than 21 million people worldwide are affected by this scourge. The United States, however, should serve as a model for other countries to follow and better protect those here at home.”
Highlights of S. 2564:
- Creating a pilot program of continuing judicial supervision for child trafficking victims;
- Providing incentives for states to clamp down on those who purchase commercial sex;
- Enhancing penalties for various forms of trafficking;
- Eliminating duplication in existing federal grant programs to achieve efficiencies;
- Facilitating interagency collaboration; and
- Criminalizing the knowing distribution of commercial advertising that promotes prostitution.