What does this mean for the Lone Star State? For one thing: tougher laws on sex and labor trafficking and harsher penalties for child trafficking. But the passage of this bill might also be the bellwether needed to convince other states to pass their own trafficking legislation. Texas has a strong track record of preemptively combating trafficking issues — Virginia, Georgia and Missouri? Not so much. As you’re toasting the (real) champagne, don’t forget to pick up a (virtual) pen and support these other great pieces of legislation.
This Texan law was created from the recommendations of a statewide 47-member Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force. It increases the minimum jail time for offenders to 25 years in prison, makes it a felony to force children into prostitution and gives automatic life sentences to repeat offenders. It expands the definition of human trafficking to include both sex and labor trafficking. The law will also provide a certain measure of legal protection for victims, giving children forced into prostitution provisions similar to sexual assault cases.
According to the Texas Attorney General, of the 800,000 people who become trafficking victims each year, 20 percent will pass through Texas. For those victims, this law means that traffickers may think twice about buying or selling a person, and those convicted of trafficking will be off the streets for good. Texas was one of the first states in the U.S. to recognize human trafficking as a crime in 2003, and it’s become the latest state to continue the fight against modern-day slavery.
“This is a huge step forward for the children in our state who are victims of human trafficking and for all victims of human trafficking,” said Traffick 911 Executive Director Deena Graves.
Please contact your state and federal legislators asking them to help the other (640,000) Six-Hundred Forty-Thousand victims/survivors!!!