HEADLINES: Trafficking

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Legislation to add the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 was passed through the Senate last week, thanks to the bipartisan efforts of Connecticut Senator Blumenthal and Ohio Senator Portman.  In a statement released Friday, Blumenthal said, “current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses.  By increasing preventative scrutiny, investigation, and prosecution, this legislation will stop egregious human rights abuses on U.S military bases, increasing security for our troops, and preventing waste of taxpayer dollars.”  This was a large boost for trafficking rights advocates who have been pushing like legislation for some time, though the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States’ main anti-trafficking law, expired last year and has yet to be reauthorized.  [Timesargus]

This past Friday, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals “refused to overturn the conviction of a child sex-trafficker on the ground that the government had failed to prove that he was aware of the trafficked girl being underage.”  The victim, a 17-year old girl, testified that the perpetrator, Devon Robinson, was her boyfriend and that she had lied about her age, but the jury had sentenced him to 15 years in prison.  Robinson appealed, but his case was not overturned by the court, because, under the Wilberforce Act of 2008, knowledge of the child’s age is not a prerequisite for the act to be considered trafficking. [Jdjournal]

A study conducted by ASU’s School of Social Work found that human trafficking on the infamous Backpage.com is even more pervasive than originally thought, as more than 60 percent of the ads on the site were selling sex and 20 percent were identified as potential trafficking instances.  The study looked at almost 1,500 ads in 5 cities.  Backpage.com has been embroiled in several legal cases over the past few years, but has emerged relatively unscathed, largely due to federal legislation like the 1996 Federal Communications Decency Act.  The leader of the study, Social Work Professor Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, said, “The scope of the prostitution ads examined through the study was overwhelming.” [Phys.org]

Child sex trafficking in the United States is extremely widespread and growing, reports Forbes Magazine, and we are not doing enough to combat the problem and help the victims.  Despite the fact that estimates for the number of children sex trafficking victims runs from 100,000 upwards, but there are “fewer than 100 shelter beds are available in the U.S for sex-trafficking victims, and most facilities are not equipped to address their needs.”  There is hope, though, as more and more organizations are dedicating themselves to combatting trafficking, and President Obama announced a plethora of diverse new anti-trafficking measures engaging law enforcement, advocates, government agencies, and businesses. [Forbes]

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