by Amanda Kloer June 29, 2010
This week, a new bill was introduced to Congress to help combat the trafficking of American children for sex in the United States. If passed, it would mean more resources for victims, more cash to prosecute people who sell kids, and stricter reporting requirements for missing children. To the tune of 45 million bucks. And the new legislation might also fill in some of the gaping holes that allow trafficked children who are U.S. citizens to be overlooked.
The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2010 was introduced this week by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Human Trafficking. Maloney and Smith are the veritable Mama and Papa bear of the bipartisan anti-human trafficking bear family. Sometimes their legislation is too big, sometimes it’s too small, but most of the time it’s just right. And the DMSTDVS Act, aside from being in desperate need of a new acronym, seems to be the right size.
The proposed legislation specifically targets assistance to American citizen child trafficking victims, many of whom are runaways, throwaways, or homeless youth. These teens, who range in age from pre-pubescent to 17, are often addicted to drugs, sometimes forcibly by traffickers. The new legislation creates grants to funnel much-needed funds to shelters and other services for minor victims of sex trafficking. A huge part of this will likely be shelter, as there are only 50 beds in the country for American sex trafficking victims, despite estimates that there are around 100,000 victims out there. Increased shelters and victim services can also cut down on re-trafficking, which can happen when victims are removed from trafficking but given no support.
Maloney and Smith proposed the bill as a response to a 2009 report by Shared Hope International, which details the prevalence of child sex trafficking in America and the lack of support and services for victims. The assessments they conducted in several American cities determined that there were woefully few resources for this population of human trafficking victims. You can read more about their findings here.
The bipartisan nature of human trafficking has always been on the issue’s side when it comes to passing legislation. And team Maloney-Smith might just have drafted another winner. But only time will tell if the DMSTDVS Act will pass muster in Congress. For the time being, however, can someone please work on that acronym?
Photo credit: John Brawley