NY Gov’t Leaders, Activists Urge Strong Legislation to Combat Sex Trafficking

Jun 2, 2008
Press Release

New York, NY – Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Council Members Jessica Lappin and Helen Sears joined with New York-area women’s groups and urged the federal government to pass strong legislation to combat sex trafficking.  The elected officials and activists also announced a strengthened NYC Council resolution on the issue and appealed to other U.S. cities to join the fight against this heinous crime.

“We know that there are tens of thousands of trafficking victims in our country, but we're prosecuting far too few of the criminals to provide a deterrent. It's no wonder that human trafficking is a growth area in criminal activity.  We need to improve our efforts to combat trafficking and we need a strong trafficking bill to give the prosecutors the tools to go after traffickers.  The House bill provided a strong blueprint, and I hope my colleagues in the Senate will join the House in passing a strong bill,” said Maloney.  “I’d like to thank my good friends Jessica Lappin and Helen Sears for their leadership in supporting efforts to fight human trafficking and I call on legislators in other cities to join them in supporting efforts to combat trafficking.”

“We need to have the strongest enforcement possible to combat a crime as heinous as human sex trafficking,” said Lappin.  “We need to make it clear that we will have absolutely no tolerance for this modern day form of slavery.  The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act sponsored by Congresswoman Maloney will provide law enforcement officers with the necessary funding to begin to put an end to this practice.  I’m proud to join with the Congresswoman and Council Member Sears as we add our support to the fight against this despicable practice.”

Late last year, the U.S. House overwhelmingly passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3887), which authorizes critical funding to combat trafficking and help victims.  The law would allow the Department of Justice to prosecute traffickers without having to prove fraud, force or coercion, or a victim's status as a minor - instead, the law would allow prosecutors to use these aggravating circumstances as the basis for enhanced penalties.  Currently, the law requires testimony from a traumatized victim who has reason to fear the consequences to herself or her family if she testifies. By eliminating the need for victims to testify about force, fraud or coercion, prosecutors will have a more effective way to crack down on traffickers.  The law would also require the Attorney General to conduct a biennial survey of trafficking in the United States.

The elected officials and activists today expressed their hope that the strong provisions included in the House bill will be included either Senate companion legislation or in a compromise bill.

Human trafficking is a $10 billion worldwide industry and one of the most heinous crimes imaginable.  According to the State Department, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders for labor and commercial sex purposes each year; the number is in the millions when trafficking within borders is counted. In its most recent report to Congress, the Justice Department reported that only 70 individuals were convicted of trafficking in FY2006.

Background:

Congresswoman Maloney is an original cosponsor of H.R. 3887. She has worked to combat sex trafficking internationally, nationally, and in her New York City district for the past seven years. Maloney urged state and federal prosecutors to investigate Queens-based Big Apple Oriental Tours and other sex tour operators for criminal violations. She is a strong supporter of federal legislation to strengthen the ability of the government to prosecute sex tour operators.

A landmark law to make the United States a leader in combating the worldwide affliction of sex trafficking was enacted in 2006. That law incorporates key provisions of the End Demand for Sex Trafficking Act championed by Maloney and Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-OH).

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