June 30, 2011

Wyden Sex Trafficking Legislation Included in Leahy-Brown Trafficking Victims Bill

Creates Shelters for Victims of Sex Trafficking; Breaking the Cycle of Exploitation and Giving Law Enforcement the Means to Put the Pimps and Traffickers Behind Bars

Washington, D.C. – After leading the campaign to put domestic sex trafficking of children on the national agenda, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), worked with Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy to include key provisions of his legislation into the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2011. The Wyden-authored provision will help put an end to this modern-day sexual slavery.

Similar to the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act that Wyden introduced earlier this year, the provision authorizes a pilot program that would create comprehensive residential care facilities throughout the country providing a safe haven for minors who are being trafficked and sold into sexual slavery. Importantly, the pilot programs will ensure the active participation and specialized training of law enforcement officers and social service providers in identifying and serving these victims.

The bill also gives law enforcement tools to investigate and incarcerate the pimps and traffickers forcing young women and girls into prostitution and gives the legal system the tools to successfully prosecute the offenders.

“One of the hardest parts of fighting the trafficking of minors for sex in this country is that there are not enough resources to break the cycle of exploitation,” Wyden said. “All too often the real victims of sex trafficking – the young women and girls – do not get the help they need to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, the pimps and traffickers who prey on these vulnerable girls remain on the street. This provision will give social service professionals the ability to give the victims of sex trafficking the aid and care they need while giving law enforcement and the legal system the means to lock up the pimps and traffickers.”

The provision included in the TVPRA creates a pilot program where block grants are given to four areas of the country particularly hard hit by sex trafficking. The grants would be used to create a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to combat sex trafficking of minors. Each block grant would be for $1.5 to $2 million per year for up to four years. The block grants could fund:

  • Housing for child victims of sex trafficking
  • Clothing and other daily needs in order to keep victims from returning to the street
  • Mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, and case management
  • Victims’ assistance counseling and legal services
  • Education or job training classes for victims
  • Outreach, education, and deterrence/prevention efforts
  • Education and training for law enforcement personnel on how to investigate crimes involving the sex trafficking of minors who are United States citizens or aliens admitted for permanent residence, including how to identify minor victims of sex trafficking

To qualify locales would have to demonstrate significant sex trafficking activity; demonstrated cooperation by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors and social service providers; and a workable plan to provide comprehensive, wrap-around services to victims including a shelter, mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment and case management. 

Click here to follow Senator Wyden’s previous efforts to combat sex trafficking.