Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Exploiting Our Daughters: Fighting Sex Trafficking | Commentary

The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act includes multiple prongs to attack sex trafficking in the United States. It would discourage prosecution of trafficked minors for prostitution related crimes. Currently, trafficked women are often not forthcoming with law enforcement because their statements could be used against them in a court of law. That makes it difficult for police and welfare agencies to find traffickers and bring them to justice. By taking prosecution off the table, victims of these crimes will be more willing to come forward and will be easier to help.

The bill would also provide opportunities for victims to build employment skills to help them find jobs. By making them eligible for participation in the Job Corps program, it decreases their susceptibility to human trafficking and minimizes the likelihood that they will be forced to return to sex slavery.

While “safe harbor” laws are already in effect in some jurisdictions, to end this epidemic, resources at the local, state and federal level will need to come together. Our legislation will establish a national strategy to combat human trafficking by integrating agencies and coordinating resources to be more effective in holding responsible the criminals that are ruining these young women’s lives.

Taking action to end sex trafficking is a cause that cannot wait. At a time when partisanship in Washington reigns, we are proud to reach across the aisle to support every daughter, sister and friend who has had their livelihoods and childhoods stolen. Our legislation is a bipartisan effort to combat this scourge, because ending the exploitation of children in our country is an issue that should have no ideological bounds.

Rep. Erik Paulsen is a Republican from Minnesota. Rep. Gwen Moore is a Democrat from Wisconsin.

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