Hultgren Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill to Stifle Demand for Sex Slavery
Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (R-IL-14), along with Helsinki Commission Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Robert Pittenger (R-NC-09), Alex Mooney (R-WV-02), Brett Guthrie (R-KY-02) and Tim Walberg (MI-07), today reintroduced legislation pushing nations to clamp down on the demand for commercial sex within their borders, a major factor contributing to the prevalence of sex slavery. Rep. Hultgren delivered a floor statement in support of the bill, H.R. 466, the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act.
Following are Rep. Hultgren’s prepared remarks:
During Human Trafficking Awareness Month, I rise in support of the 21 million men, women, and children worldwide who are victims of this insidious enterprise.
Human trafficking is nothing less than modern day slavery. It targets society’s most vulnerable, stealing their souls and depriving them of any hope to escape a downward spiral of despair.
Nations must be held accountable for their efforts to eradicate human trafficking within their borders, which is why today I am reintroducing the “Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act.”
This legislation targets the demand for commercial sex because the evidence is clear that where markets for commercial sex exist, human trafficking proliferates as well.
The bill requires governments to take the initiative to eliminate the demand for the purchase of commercial sex in their efforts to combat human trafficking overall.
As a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Task Force, I am pleased to see Congress taking a leadership role in the fight against human trafficking.
We are getting closer to the day when human trafficking will no longer represent a blight on humanity and we will see victims and survivors, created in God’s image, fully restored.
The Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act urges nations to recognize the link between commercial sex and its impact on human trafficking by amending the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 to add a provision to the minimum standards section. It affirms that if the government of a country has the authority to restrict or prohibit the purchase of commercial sex acts and fails to do so, it would be deemed a failure on the part of that government to make a serious and sustained effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts despite other efforts it may be undertaking to fight human trafficking.
The commercial sex—human trafficking link is well-documented:
“Prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanizing and fuels trafficking in persons. Turning people into dehumanized commodities creates an enabling environment for human trafficking.”
--Ambassador Mark Lagon, Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, 2008.
“Where prostitution is tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery.”
--Trafficking in Persons Report 2007, U.S. Department of State.
In January 2012 researchers released the findings of an empirical analysis for a cross section of 150 countries which shows that on average legalized commercial sex increases human trafficking inflows.
--“Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?” Seo-Young Cho, Axel Dreher, Eric Neumayer, Courant Research Centre, September 2011.
In the Washington Post, Mark Lagon of Freedom House and Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry have urged Congress to pass this legislation.
“Tolerating commercial sex means tolerating sex slavery,” said Rep. Hultgren. “No longer can national governments pay lip service to fighting trafficking but wink at one of its root causes.”
Rep. Hultgren has made combating human trafficking a priority as a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, hosting a series of in-district community events and Capitol Hill briefings and film screenings to raise awareness of the issue and its effects at home and around the world. Rep. Hultgren is Executive-Committee member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission and a commissioner on the Helsinki Commission (Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe).