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Senators introduce bill to crack down on sex trafficking

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), introduced a comprehensive bipartisan bill to crack down on sex trafficking.

The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (SETT) will give prosecutors the tools they need to tackle domestic minor sex trafficking and help make sure victims of these horrific crimes receive the support they need. The bill is modeled after Minnesota’s “safe harbor” laws which help ensure minors who are sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants, but rather are treated as victims.

“As a former prosecutor, I know how important it is to have policies in place that help victims break free from abuse,” said Sen. Klobuchar. “In Minnesota, we’ve already recognized that kids sold for sex need to be supported, not locked up in jail.

“This bill will help tackle sex trafficking head-on, using Minnesota’s ‘safe harbor’ laws as a model for the country while also improving coordination and focusing resources so that law enforcement can more effectively investigate and prosecute sex trafficking.”

“I am proud to join in introducing legislation that will build upon the important steps we’ve taken to protect victims of trafficking and crack down on the criminals that perpetrate these heinous crimes,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “Sadly, a number of cities in Texas have become hubs for human trafficking, and this bill will greatly assist law enforcement officials as they target and lock up predators, while also ensuring that victims receive the support they deserve.”

“As the former Attorney General of North Dakota, I understand the need to provide increased protection to victims of human trafficking so they see a way out of their situation, and a path forward for a better life,” said Sen. Heitkamp. 

“It is my hope that this bill will provide some initial tools that will allow prosecutors to help victims, and stop sex trafficking across the country and on Indian reservations. No longer can we turn a blind eye to this issue, and I will keep fighting to put an end to human trafficking of any kind.”

There are more than 27 million people around the world victimized by trafficking each year. In Minnesota, recent reports indicate that on any given night, dozens of underage girls are sold for sex online. The average age of a child when she first becomes a victim is just 13 years old.

Senators Klobuchar and Cornyn have also worked together on previous legislation to fight sex trafficking.

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