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“Human Trafficking” Bill Introduced in MN Legislature

March 3, 2009

St. Paul, MN – Some call it human trafficking; to others, it is sex trafficking. Either way, legislation to prevent it in Minnesota has been introduced in the State Legislature. Sponsor Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) says prostitution is a form of human trafficking, and SF 1050 is designed to fight it more effectively.

"We are recognizing that sex trafficking is a form of slavery and involuntary servitude, which results in grave human rights violations."

The bill would strengthen sanctions against traffickers and help victims obtain legal and counseling services. Pappas acknowledges that some don't view prostitution as slavery. She disagrees, and believes the state must do more to protect victims, prosecute violators and prevent further violations.

"You have vulnerable people who were abused or raped as children;, who are flattered and cajoled or coerced into performing sex acts with strangers."

One of the bill's supporters is Vednita Carter, executive director of the victims' rights group, Breaking Free. She says prostitution is on the increase - and not just in urban areas, but across the state.

"Some of the reasons for these increases include economic conditions, substance abuse, sexual slavery, debt bondage and child sexual abuse."

Carter estimates there are 8,000 to 12,000 women in prostitution in Minnesota.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN