WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-TX) and Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) introduced legislation this week to combat the criminal enterprise of human trafficking. Their bipartisan legislation, the Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015, H.R. 1201, would strengthen legal and law enforcement efforts to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in sex trafficking crimes, including the buyers of sex acts from trafficking victims. In many cases, the buyers of sex trafficking crimes can be more difficult to prosecute. H.R. 1201 would bolster efforts to prosecute the buyers of sex trafficking crimes to help put an end to this criminal marketplace.

An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children are at risk of becoming child sex trafficking victims every year, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The trafficking of children in the United States is a $9.8 billion industry.

“Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise that stretches to every corner of the world, including right here in the United States. This is not an easy topic to discuss, but it is critical that more is done to raise awareness of these crimes as well as to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Kay Granger. “While men, women and children are all victims of these crimes, women and girls are predominately targeted by sex traffickers putting them at increased risk. Our bill ensures that both buyers and sellers of this heinous criminal activity are held accountable for their actions.”

“This legislation is critically important, especially as it relates to helping children. Girls who are victims of human trafficking and not prostitutes, they are victims. And the men who prey on them are not Johns; they are child molesters,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “When it comes to combatting sex trafficking we are neither Republican nor Democrat, we are mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, and we are working together to make sure the people who prey on young children are punished for their despicable actions.”

The Combat Human Trafficking Act does the following:
Reduces demand for human trafficking by:
--Clarifying that a buyer of a sex act from a trafficking victim can be prosecuted under   the commercial sex trafficking statute.
--Makes a seller or buyer of a sex act strictly liable, with respect to the victim’s age, if the victim is under the age of 18, thereby sparing the child victims from having to testify and be re-traumatized.
--Establishes a minimum period of five years of supervised release for a person who conspires to violate the commercial sex trafficking statute

Encourages the prosecution of buyers of sex acts involving trafficking victims

Strengthens crime victims’ rights by:
--Amending the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to provide victims with the right to be informed in a timely manner of any plea agreement or deferred prosecution agreement
--Clarifying that, when a victim is denied his or her rights in the lower court and appeals that denial, the appellate court shall apply ordinary standards of appellate review. This would codify the more victim-protecting rule, followed by the Second, Third, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits.

Companion legislation, S. 140, has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.