WASHINGTON, D.C.–There were 29 cases of human trafficking in Mississippi last year. That means 29 people were sold for sex or slave labor. But, it’s an even bigger problem across the country and Wednesday the U.S. Senate took action to make it harder on people who trade children or adults for sex.
“There should be zero tolerance for human trafficking, which is insidious crime that ruins the lives of the vulnerable and denigrates the moral fabric of our society. Senate approval of a strong, bipartisan bill is an important step toward more effectively stopping the abusers and helping the victims,” said Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), who voted for the bill. “I hope the Senate and House can reach a final agreement on legislation that can be enacted into law as soon as possible.”
The bill passed unanimously, 99-0. Cochran said the measure was filibustered by Senate Democrats for more than a month over the decades-old prohibition against using federal tax dollars to provide abortion services.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S.178) would provide law enforcement with authority and resources to pursue individuals and organizations involved in human trafficking activities, including those who purchase sex from a trafficking victim.
The bill would create a Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund, financed in part through criminal fines, to provide resources and support to victims. The measure would also facilitate states’ abilities to investigate and prosecute human trafficking.
Some of the groups who endorsed the bill include the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Rights 4 Girls, the National Association to Protect Children, the Fraternal Order of Police, the NAACP and the National Conference of State Legislatures.