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Sex Trafficking in Mississippi and America: Hood Urges Passage of SAVE Act in Senate

WASHINGTON, D.C.–The internet can be a dangerous place for kids and adults, and stopping the trafficking of people for sex, especially children, is why Mississippi Atty. Gen. Jim Hood corresponded with members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. The SAVE Act could help put some of the sex traffickers out of business.

The SAVE Act stands for he Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, and would provide for better oversight from the government for websites that promote “adult services”. Hood particularly pointed out Backpage.com.

“We often think of this as being a crime that occurs elsewhere, but Mississippi is  just as vulnerable as every other state,” said Hood in a statement.  “I want to know we are doing all we can to keep our children safe.”

In a letter co-sponsored by the Indiana and Washington attorneys general, and joined by 53 other attorneys general, Attorney General Hood asked members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their support of the Act.

Human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, generating about $150 billion each year. There are numerous cases nationally of children being used in prostitution as young as 12. The FBI estimates that nearly 300,000 American youths are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

This is a news release from Hood’s office:

Hood said federal courts have recognized that the Internet has become a favored means for advertising the availability of children for sex. Internet ads can be purchased in multiple locations with the click of a button.

This allows human traffickers to maximize their profit and evade detection by moving victims quickly to lucrative venues where there is significant demand for commercial sex.

“Organized crime groups and street gangs use the Internet to sell their victims as well, which is why passage of the SAVE Act is particularly critical,” said Attorney General Hood.

The use of the “adult services sections” on websites such as Backpage.com has created virtual brothels where children are bought and sold using euphemistic labels such as “escorts.” The SAVE Act would require these websites that are facilitating trafficking through their very business model to take steps to verify the identity of individuals posting advertisements and the age of those who appear in these advertisements.

In just one week this June, law enforcement arrested 281 alleged sex traffickers and took 168 children out of prostitution in a nationwide FBI crackdown where many child victims were offered for sale on “escort” and other “adult services” websites.

Preventing kids from being trafficked on the Internet has been a long-term interest of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG). NAAG has taken several actions regarding Backpage.com and similar websites, including requesting that these exploitive websites shut down their “adult services” sections which fuel the online trafficking of youth.

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