U.S. Representative Kristi Noem today helped lead the U.S. House of Representatives in passing a series of bills to better address the country’s sex trafficking crisis. The legislation passed today allocates more resources for survivors, offers more tools to go after traffickers and those that solicit the services of a trafficked individual, and puts policies in place that lawmakers hope will better prevent trafficking.
“As a parent of three, the idea that the sex trafficking industry exists so close to home is reprehensible,” said Rep. Noem. “Today, I am proud to stand up beside my colleagues in Congress to pass legislation that better protects at-risk youth, helps survivors, and inflicts greater penalties on traffickers and buyers alike. I strongly urge the U.S. Senate to take up and pass these bills quickly.”
Noem continued: “The proposals we passed today are just the tip of the iceberg. The best thing we can do to take down this industry is raise awareness about the issue. I encourage all parents, teachers, truckers, hotel attendants, gas station managers, and anyone who may come in contact with someone impacted by this industry to be aware that it’s happening and keep a look out for it. If we all do a little something, we can better ensure our kids are safe from this unconscionable industry when they’re at school, at the mall or online.”
Among the bills passed by the U.S. House today were:
- Stop Exploitation through Sex Trafficking Act (H.R. 3610) – COSPONSORED BY NOEM. Some victims of trafficking have been wrongly charged with crimes as a result of being trafficked, making it more difficult for survivors to move on from their past. H.R. 3610 establishes Safe Harbor laws across the country to ensure minors engaged in prostitution are treated as victims, not criminals. It also creates a National Human Trafficking Hotline and allows trafficking victims to collect more damages from the defendant.
- Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (H.R. 4225) – COSPONSORED BY NOEM. Websites, like Backpage.com, all too often facilitate the trafficking of people, including minors in South Dakota. H.R. 4225 is designed to close Internet marketplaces that host advertisements for the commercial exploitation of minors by allowing prosecutors to charge websites with a federal crime if they knowingly advertise sex with minors.
- Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act (H.R. 4058) – COSPONSORED BY NOEM. Children in foster care are at greater risk of being trafficked. H.R. 4058 works to improve the way states monitor and share information about children in foster care. It encourages foster parents to make more day-to-day decisions for youth in their care and encourages states to do more to move kids out of foster care and into an adoptive home or permanent living situation.
- Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (H.R. 3530) – COSPONSORED BY NOEM. Trafficking survivors face many different challenges from victims of domestic violence. Many shelters and survivor advocates lack the resources and tools necessary to begin to help survivors. H.R. 3530 creates a fund for trafficking victims, improves task forces to combat human trafficking and increases penalties for human trafficking.
Additionally, Rep. Noem was featured in a video done by the GOP Conference this week on trafficking. Click here to view the video.
For more on Rep. Noem’s work to combat sex trafficking in South Dakota, please click here.