Archived Story

The SAVE Act

Published 10:39am Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Consider the following:

• 100,000- 300,000. That’s the estimated number of children in the United States at risk of becoming victims of prostitution, according to the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

• $32 billion. That’s the estimated amount of money that human trafficking generates per year around the globe, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

• 11-14. That’s the estimated average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States, according to the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and Justice.

These are numbers, but they aren’t just numbers. Each figure represents a child in desperate need of help. Behind each statistic is a perpetrator that must be brought to justice.

What the statistics do, however, is paint a picture of a startling truth: human trafficking isn’t a distant industry that exists across the world.

It is an industry that is active right here in the United States, with many trafficking hubs existing not too far from the neighborhoods you and I call home.

Today, sex trafficking crimes are often facilitated using technology. Most recently, some online classified services have become a platform for traffickers to advertise their victims. Traffickers purchase advertising space on these sites and run ads using provocative images and explicit text showcasing hourly rates for victims, many of whom were forced into prostitution as children. The motives of the advertisements are clear – to advertise sex trade to the world. In return, online classified services reap huge sums of money for running the ads.

It’s time we put an end to human trafficking. The advertising of illegal activities like child prostitution should be strictly prohibited. Under no circumstances should companies be able to profit from selling sex with children.

I am a member of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission where one of my goals is to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts here at home by bringing relief to victims and justice to perpetrators through the legislative process. This year, I co-sponsored legislation to begin to cut the legs out from under the trafficking industry.

The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act is designed to penalize internet marketplaces that knowingly facilitate human trafficking through online advertisements. Specifically, the legislation makes publishing online trafficking advertisements a felony.

The legislation is simple in its goal. Yet, it is a powerful step forward in addressing the large proportion of transactions for sex with children that are conducted on the internet.

Protecting children has to be one of our nation’s highest priorities. The trafficking and exploitation of any human being – especially children – is an affront to human dignity.

America’s children deserve our greatest efforts towards their protection, and the American values of freedom, human rights, and the rule of law demand it.

U.S. Rep. RANDY FORBES, R-Va., represents Western Tidewater in the U.S. House of Representatives. His e-mail address is randy@randyforbes.com.

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