Few are aware the severity of human trafficking within American borders. Law enforcement has been unable to effectively combat this criminal industry—where people are traded and exploited for sex or commercial gain—enabling prostitution rings to capture and abuse millions of children, women, and men. The facts are chilling and the message is clear: the atrocities of human trafficking are real and close to home.
According to a 2013 Congressional Research Service report, more than 17,000 people are trafficked annually within U.S borders. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates 100,000-300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked each year. Trafficking amounts to a $32 billion a year industry and is truly a modern form of slavery.
The nationwide and international problem demands action. Through bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives has drafted 5 bills to help put an end to human trafficking and help its victims:
1) The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (H.R. 3530) will shuffle funds to give law enforcement agencies more resources to crack down on and prosecute violators of human trafficking laws.
2) The Stop Exploitation through Trafficking Act (H.R. 3610) understands that those being trafficked are not criminals, but victims. This act would require states to adopt “safe harbor” laws to treat victims with protective services, counseling, and skill building, as opposed to incarceration.
3) The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE) makes it federal crime to knowingly advertise for commercial sex with minors and trafficked victims. Currently, 76 percent of transactions for sex with underage girls are conducted through Internet use.
4) The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act (H.R. 4058) addresses sex trafficking within the foster care system. Recent studies show that a disturbing number of trafficked children come from foster homes. This reform helps provide foster children with the environment to have a normal and successful life
5) The International Megan’s Law (H.R. 4573) ensures that a destination country is aware when a convicted American sex offender is traveling to their country and encourages other countries to do the same for America.
The passing of these bills into law will help take the power away from human rights abusers while also working to ensure all children are given the opportunity to live a healthy and successful life.