Hultgren Reintroduces Legislation to Stifle Demand for Sex Slavery
Washington, DC — U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) today reintroduced a bill (H.R. 611) pushing nations to clamp down on the demand for commercial sex within their borders, a major factor contributing to the prevalence of sex slavery. The bill is titled the “Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act.” This week, Rep. Hultgren supported House passage of several pieces of legislation aimed at combating human trafficking, including two bills he cosponsored: H.R. 350, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015, and H.R. 285, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act of 2015.
“Many nations have worked hard to combat the exploitation of human lives for profit, but fighting human trafficking doesn’t stop at targeting the commercial sex enterprise itself. Where commercial sex abounds, the sex trade flourishes. Nations have a responsibility to use their authority to clamp down on the demand for commercial sex. If the demand for violating human lives dries up, the horrific ‘market’ for sex slavery will wither,” said Rep. Hultgren. “In many cases, the common victims of human trafficking—children and young women—were at one time thrown into the commercial sex trade, their bodies sold and their souls tarnished for the economic gain of a pimp and the evil desires of a john. Despite this link, many national governments simultaneously attempt to fight the spread of sex trafficking but permit the purchase of commercial sex acts. Ultimately, there must be a coordinated and coherent effort to reduce demand within the commercial sex trade.”
The Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act would urge 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 would affirm 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.
“It’s time for a wake-up call to national governments that tolerating commercial sex means tolerating sex slavery,” said Rep. Hultgren. “We must shine a light on those who pay lip service to fighting trafficking but wink at one of its root causes.”
Rep. Hultgren has made combating human trafficking a priority in Washington as a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus:
- In October, he brought law enforcement, victim advocates, trafficking experts, and residents of the 14th District to Geneva to address the prevalence of trafficking in northern Illinois, and how best to combat its spread.
- In May, he hosted a Capitol Hill presentation on the root causes that fuel sex slavery featuring Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry. This year, Ms. Mickelwait was his guest at the State of the Union Address to highlight January as Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
- He was selected as a member of the Congressional Human Trafficking Task Force, aimed at bringing Members of Congress together to produce legislation with the goal of combating international and domestic trafficking, while protecting and helping victims.
- Previously, he hosted a screening for Members of Congress and their staff of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that unveils the hidden world of sex slavery as recounted by former victims and traffickers.