Senators focus to end human trafficking

Published 9:04 am Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Portman, Brown introduce bills

WASHINGTON — Ohio’s U.S. senators have both made national headlines this week for their efforts to eradicate human trafficking.

On Tuesday, Republican Rob Portman testified before the Senate Commerce Committee during a hearing on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, a bipartisan bill he has authored.

“The fact that instances of human trafficking and sex trafficking are actually increasing in this country—in this century—is an outrage,” Portman told the committee. “It’s a disgrace, and I believe history is going to judge us on how we respond to it.”

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The legislation was introduced after the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations conducted a two-year inquiry, which culminated in a report entitled “’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking.”

The report found that the website knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and then covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits.

Portman, founder and co-chair of the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking, is well-known for his work on the issue. He authored five federal anti-trafficking laws signed by President Barack Obama.

Democrat Sherrod Brown has also authored legislation addressing the issue.

His office said Brown’s bill, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, enhances and expands the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, a 2015 law that increased the resources and tools available for combatting human trafficking in the United States.

“We’ve seen the devastating effects that human trafficking has on communities in Ohio and across the country,” Brown said of the legislation, introduced last week. “We must do more to protect Ohioans from the most heinous of crimes and to provide justice, restitution, and healing for trafficking survivors.”

His office said the bill would support funding for victims’ services and law enforcement, authorize key Trafficking Victims Protection Act programs, empower victims in the fight against trafficking, help law enforcement fight human traffickers, increase awareness and prevention and enhance reporting on human trafficking crimes.

Brown’s office said the legislation includes a provision based on a bill the senator introduced earlier this year, which would create a Human Trafficking Coordinator in each of the country’s federal judicial districts and a National Human Trafficking Coordinator at the Department of Justice to help the Department better coordinate its efforts to prevent and prosecute human trafficking cases.