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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Domestic Minor Anti-Sex Trafficking Bill Passes US Senate

 The US Senate unanimously approved the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act.  The bill would aid victims of modern sexual slavery and give law enforcement the tools to investigate and prosecute sex traffickers who exploit underage girls and force them into the sex trade.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

Sponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act would create a 6-state pilot program to help law enforcement crackdown on pimps and traffickers and create shelters, provide treatment, counseling, and legal aid for  underage girls who are forced into sexual slavery.

According to the FBI, more than 100,000 underage girls are exploited for commercial sex in the U.S. each year--including underage girls who are forced into the sex trade.

“Senator Cornyn and I have long believed that sex trafficking is modern day slavery and the poor young women forced into the sex trade are victims of the real criminals--the pimps and traffickers,” Wyden said.  “Today, the United States Senate agreed with us.  Not only will this bill create a working model to help these young women break the cycle of exploitation for good, it will provide new tools for law enforcement and prosecutors to put these modern-day slave owners behind bars.”

Added Senator Cornyn, “Our nation must remain committed to ending the scourge of human trafficking. This legislation will provide valuable assistance to state and local governments on the front lines of battling organized criminal syndicates and violent gangs that traffic humans for labor and sex.”

The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act would authorize block grants to 6 locations deemed to have significant sex trafficking activity, require a workable plan to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to sex trafficking victims--including the establishment of a shelter facility--and require demonstrated participation by all levels of law enforcement, prosecutors, and social service providers.

Each grant will be funded at $2-2.5 million per year with the option of renewal for 2 more years. Some of the items that can be funded by these block grants include:
  • A shelter for trafficking victims
  • Clothing and other daily needs to keep victims from returning to the street
  • Victims' assistance counseling and legal services
  • Education or job training classes for victims
  • Specialized training for law enforcement and social service providers
  • Salaries for police officers and prosecutors
  • Investigation expenses--wire taps, expert consultants, travel, other technical assistance expenditures
  • Outreach, education, and prevention efforts, including programs to deter offenders
  • The bill will help encourage and boost prompt reporting of missing and abducted children to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. With the help of more timely reporting, law enforcement will be able to identify repeat runaways who are statistically more likely to be lured into prostitution.
"Now it’s time for the House of Representatives to go to work and not leave Washington before this job is done," said Sen. Wyden. "I’m calling on all of you to contact your Congress member as soon as possible and let them know that they need to stand up for all the children who are being exploited for sex.

"Tell them not to leave Washington without passing the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act (S. 2925)," he adds. "Call 202-224-3121 or email your member. Sex trafficking is slavery pure and simple. Let’s end it now."

Source:  Diana Scimone

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