Statement by Penelope A. Morrell, State Director, Concerned Women for America of Maine
To Members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
Regarding L.D. #250, “An Act to Increase the Penalty for Aggravated Sex Trafficking”
March 22, 2017
Chairs Sen. Rosen and Rep. Warren, and distinguished members of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on this legislation. I’m Penny Morrell, State Director of Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Maine. CWA is the largest public policy women’s organization in the nation.
CWA of Maine supports L.D. #250.
Human trafficking and commercial sex exploitation are a violation of human rights and a form of sexual violence. It can happen to U.S. citizens and to non-citizens and to people of any gender, class, age, culture or race. Human trafficking is the act of compelling someone into labor (including commercial sex work) through force, fraud or coercion, for economic gain of a trafficker. Any minor in commercial sex work is a victim of human trafficking.
Here are some statistics taken from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
- Prevalence of sex trafficking in Maine ranges between 200 and 300 cases annually.
- The National Human Trafficking Hotline has reported over 311 calls from Maine since 2007 with 53 cases of trafficking identified.
- Sexual assault support centers from every area of Maine report serving victims of sex trafficking and commercial sex exploitation.
- Between 70-90% of commercially sexually exploited youth are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
It’s way past time to get tough on this heinous behavior going on in our state and nation. Government’s priority is to protect the lives of innocent citizens. We believe increasing the penalty for such acts of aggravated sex trafficking will take a giant step in doing just that.
We urge this committee to vote “ought to pass”. Thank you.