February 28, 2018
This week, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) voted for two bills that would provide better tools for prosecutors to curb online prostitution or sex trafficking and provide training for health professionals on how to identify and treat human trafficking victims.
The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 would increase penalties for those who deliberately support or enable online sex trafficking. The bill also amends the Communication Decency Act by clarifying that internet service providers and websites may be held liable if they allow the online promotion or facilitation of prostitution or sex trafficking. The final version of this bill included parts of the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017, which allows victims and state attorneys to bring legal action against violators.
The SOAR to Health and Wellness Act of 2017 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a training program to educate healthcare professionals to identify human trafficking victims and how to treat and care for these victims.
“Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes and, sadly, the FBI lists San Diego as one of the ‘hot spots’ for it; we’ve got to do everything we can to stop it and protect these victims whose lives are being ruined,” said Peters. “Let’s equip law enforcement with every resource available to hold abusers and enablers accountable.”
The Project Concern International (PCI), Freedom from Exploration, Free to Thrive, and Generate Hope, all San Diego advocacy organizations, strongly support this bill. In San Diego, human trafficking is the second largest underground economy after drug trafficking with an estimated $810 million in revenue. The San Diego District Attorney’s Office has stated that there are roughly 8,000 victims in San Diego alone.