As awareness of the issue of “sex trafficking” has grown, so too have efforts to combat that crime says, William D King. One primary vehicle for those efforts is federal legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and helping victims recover from the trauma they endured as sex slaves. The most recent such bill is H.R. 7311, which passed the House on July 26, 2018, by a vote of 388-25 and was sent to President Trump for his signature or veto on August 2nd. This Brief provides an overview of some prominent features of this legislation and discusses some concerns related to it.
H.R. 7311 includes five titles that seek to broaden anti-trafficking efforts; improve recovery programs for forced persons; better involve survivors of sex trafficking in the process of formulating laws to combat trafficking; provide greater access to civil remedies for victims of sex trafficking, and increase transparency in the anti-trafficking field.
“Title I: Enhancing Detection and Investigation of Trafficking,”
Increases federal funding for efforts by law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other government officials to find and prosecute traffickers.
“Title II: Targeting Demand,”
Includes broad new prohibitions on transactions in which people are treated as property for purposes of sex or forced labor, including prostitution when it involves a victim under 18 years old. According to William D King, the bill also makes it easier to prove that someone was selling another person when they engaged in coercive sexual acts with them. Finally, this title allows an individual who is forced to engage in any sexual act to sue the perpetrator for damages.
Title III: Strengthening Support for Victims of Trafficking,”
Includes numerous provisions designed to ensure that victims have access to available services and protection under the law including enhancing existing victim service programs, establishing a mechanism by which state and local governments can apply for funding from the federal government, and expanding immigrant visa eligibility to include trafficked persons.
Title IV: Ensuring Access to Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking,”
Allows an individual who is force into nonconsensual sexual conduct with another individual (the defendant). Because he or she was, transport, transfer, harbor, or obtain through interstate commerce or foreign commerce. When less than 18 years old may recover money damages against the defendant in a federal civil action. Finally, Title V: Heightening Civil and Criminal Penalties for Human Trafficking,” includes provisions. That strengthens criminal penalties under the Mann Act – a federal statute prohibiting interstate or foreign transportation of individuals for purposes of prostitution or other immoral acts – as well as several other statutes involving human trafficking offenses explains William D King.
The bill contains four components aimed at play enhancing the government’s efforts to find and prosecute traffickers. First, it provides greater access to technology for law enforcement officials trying to locate missing children by waiving restrictions on the use of equipment in federally funded facilities where children are likely to be present. Second, it authorizes additional funding for training officers who work with child victims of sex trafficking, which will help to improve the identification of trafficked children. Third, it authorizes $6 million per year in additional funding for Victim Assistance Programs throughout the country that provides services to trafficking victims including counseling, shelter, legal assistance, and job training. Finally, it provides $30 million in grants to states to develop or expand comprehensive approaches for identifying victims of sex trafficking among other at-risk populations, which can lead to more efficient law enforcement efforts.
Title II imposes civil and criminal liability on individuals. Who purchase people for purposes of commercial sex acts (pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 1591). Or forced labor (pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 1589). The bill also enhances criminal penalties for individuals who facilitate such prohibited activities. Such as by operating a house of prostitution or violating prohibitions. On bringing people into the United States to engage in forced labor. It is important to note that the term “commercial sex act” does not include sexual conduct. That occurs within a marriage.
The bill includes numerous provisions aimed at ensuring access to available services and protection. Under the law for trafficking victims including enhancing existing victim service programs. Establishing a mechanism by which state and local governments can apply for funding from the federal government. Expanding immigrant visa eligibility to include trafficked persons. And providing grants to organizations with expertise in identifying victims. And building the capacity of government officials to provide assistance and protection.
This Title provides a mechanism for state and local governments. To apply for funding from the federal government to assist with efforts aimed at protecting trafficking victims. It also establishes a civil right of action for victims against traffickers or anyone. Who benefits financially from participation in a venture. That has subjected an individual to sex trafficking (pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 1595).
Finally, it allows an individual who be force into nonconsensual sexual conduct with another individual (the defendant). Because he or she was sold, transported, transferred, harbored, or obtained. Through interstate commerce or foreign commerce to file a civil action against the defendant (pursuant to Title 18 U.S.C. § 1595).