U.S. senator introduces bill aimed at ending human trafficking

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | 7/24/2014

A U.S. senator from Mississippi has introduced a new bill, the “End Trafficking Act of 2014,” aimed at combating human trafficking in the United States.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss, recently introduced S2564, which has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Wicker’s bill seeks to stop the exploitation of human trafficking victims and to penalize those who knowingly sell advertisements that offer certain commercial sex acts.

“I decided to address this problem because it is completely unacceptable for this type of modern-day slavery to exist in the United States,” Wicker told Land Line in a statement. “We have fought human trafficking on an international basis; yet it continues in our own communities and neighborhoods.”

His bill also seeks treatment for human trafficking victims, who have been exploited for sex, instead of prosecuting them.

“Detention alone does not amount to rescue,” Wicker said in a statement about his bill. “This provision would put the well-being of the victim first, providing an opportunity for victims to return home and undergo treatment.”

Kendis Paris, executive director for Truckers Against Trafficking, told Land Line on Thursday, July 24, that it is “extremely heartening to see our lawmakers address this issue.”

“We agree with Senator Wicker that the United States must serve as a model for other nations, as well as protect those here at home from the scourge of human trafficking. And we particularly applaud his efforts to enforce stricter penalties for traffickers, buyers and those who knowingly promote prostitution through their advertising channels,” Paris said.

TAT was formed in 2009 to educate and train the trucking community about what to do if they suspect human trafficking. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and its members have taken an active role in fighting human trafficking. TAT’s wallet cards are available at OOIDA’s headquarters in Grain Valley, Mo.

Highlights of Wicker’s bill include:

  • Creating a pilot program of continuing judicial supervision for child trafficking victims;
  • Providing incentives for states to clamp down on those who purchase commercial sex;
  • Enhancing penalties for various forms of trafficking;
  • Eliminating duplication in existing federal grant programs to achieve efficiencies;
  • Facilitating interagency collaboration; and
  • Criminalizing the knowing distribution of commercial advertising that promotes prostitution.

“A number of Americans, including my trucker friends, have brought this to my attention,” Wicker told Land Line. “My bill takes a number of anti-trafficking ideas and puts them together in a comprehensive act. I am frustrated when the media refers to the ‘war on women’ in political terms when terrible evils like human trafficking are disproportionately affecting women and young girls.”

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