Congress Considers New Bill to Fight Demand for Sex Trafficking

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A bill that seeks to control domestic sex trafficking by punishing the perpetrators, rather than the victims, was introduced recently in Congress.

The End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act of 2005, which has bicameral and bipartisan support, was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania) and by U.S. Reps. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) and Bobby Scott (D-Virginia) on April 28.

“CWA strongly supports this bill,” said Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America (CWA), and CWA’s expert on sex trafficking. “It recognizes that the demand for prostitutes is driving the skyrocketing increase in sex trafficking worldwide, putting so many women and children at risk.”

Two survivors of childhood sexual exploitation testified at a hearing before the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade, and Technology, chaired by Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio). They expressed outrage that nearly all convictions involving unlawful commercial sex acts are against prostitutes, the victims of emotional and physical abuse, rape, and torture, while those who purchase their services are free to return to their lives with no punishment or stigma. Findings from recent studies, as listed in the bill, show that for every 11 females used in commercial sex acts arrested in Boston only one male purchaser was arrested. In Chicago the ratio is nine to one and in New York, six to one.

In her testimony, Norma Hotaling, executive director and founder of the SAGE Project, said, “Each week we serve and heal over 350 women and girls, most of whom are life-long victims of sexual, emotional and physical abuse, domestic trafficking, and have suffered the humiliation of arrest after arrest.”

“CWA urges quick passage of this bill,” Dr. Crouse said. “President Bush led the way in recognizing the horror of sex trafficking when he called it ‘modern-day slavery.’ In addition to freeing the slaves, we have a moral obligation to render justice to those who victimize them and profit financially from their enslavement.”

President Bush addressed this issue at the first national training conference, Human Trafficking in the United States: Rescuing Women and Children from Slavery, hosted by the U.S. Justice Department in Tampa, Florida, last July. “We cannot put [human traffickers] out of business until and unless we deal with the problem of demand,” he said.

The bill includes:

$45 million in funding for 2005-2007 that (1) focuses on reducing demand, including the prosecution of those who purchase unlawful commercial sex acts, deterrent-educational programs for first-time offenders explaining the devastation caused by such offenses, publication of names and addresses of repeat offenders, and the use of decoys to facilitate arrests; (2) will be used to prosecute sex traffickers (who, for financial gain, recruit, harbor, transport, provide or obtain a person for use in unlawful commercial sex acts) and exploiters (who, for financial gain, procure, sell, or purvey a person for use in unlawful commercial sex acts) through surveillance; prosecutions for statutory rape, sexual assault, and tax evasion; and (3) provides legal means to fund shelters, social services, and compensation to victims and supports nongovernmental organizations that assist victims with protection, education, food and shelter. strengthening prosecution and punishment of sex traffickers, purchasers and exploiters. The 1910 Mann Act prohibits the transportation of “any individual” across state or national lines to engage in prostitution or criminal sexual acts. The addition of “including a purchaser of commercial sexual activities” after “any individual” ensures the Mann Act could be used to combat domestic sex tourism involving adults and minors. The PROTECT Act, anti-sex trafficking legislation that CWA helped pass in 2003, applies only to sex tourism involving minors. (Sex tourism has been defined as traveling to a foreign country in search of commercial sex acts but with this bill, crossing state lines would also be included.) coordinating federal efforts of all federal agencies involved in combating sex trafficking and providing services to victims inside the United States through participation in the Senior Policy Operating Group. reporting. The U.S. Attorney General would be required to issue an annual report on best practices to reduce demand. This would be released at a national conference sponsored by the Justice Department. In addition, the bill would require the Attorney General to carry out a biennial comprehensive statistical review and analysis of the incidence of commercial sex acts in the United States.

To learn more about sex trafficking:

Ending Modern-Day Slavery: Some Solutions to Sex Trafficking

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