Senator seeks bill to fight sex trafficking

The desired legislation would give $2.5 million to put sex traffickers behind bars and keep victims

Are these terms the first to come to mind when you envision social issues in Oregon? They are at the top of the list for Senator Ron Wyden, who introduced a new legislation Nov. 12 aiming to vanquish human sex trafficking in the state.

“Sex trafficking is slavery, pure and simple,” Wyden said in a news release.

The proposed legislation will provide greater protection and support for victims, usually female, and strengthen prosecution for the mostly-male pimps who exploit them. Wyden stressed the message that the girls involved with sex trafficking, found to be in their mid-teens, are the victims of this business, and not involved in supporting the process.

“Without a place for the girls to escape to, they return to life on the street and to the same men who exploited them in the first place,” said Wyden. “That leaves police and prosecutors with no victim and no case.”

According to Transitions Global, a national nonprofit assisting sex trafficking survivors, 300,000 children are sex trafficked each year. In addition, a FBI series of child prostitution raids last February ranked Portland second in the 29 cities observed.

Josh Roth, University sophomore and vice president of Phi Kappa Psi, sees this problem a major issue. His fraternity is holding a fundraising event for Portland-based Transitions Global, one of the organizations potentially supported by this bill.

“We want to provide awareness for this national issue,” Roth said. “It’s important to reach out to those women who have been abused and let them know that there are men out there who are on their side.”

Wyden’s bill, which would be implemented nationally, would give $2.5 million in grants to areas in need, such as Oregon. Shelters, education, job training, counseling and daily needs for victims would be provided under this bill, as well as advanced training for police officers and investigation expenses.

While Eugene has not had such an outstanding history with sex trafficking as Portland, some find it just as serious an issue.

“It’s important to increase the awareness of this problem on campus,” McKenna Hynes, Sexual Violence Prevention and Education Coordinator for the University’s Women’s Center, said.

Hynes blames the high rates of sex trafficking in Oregon, especially in Portland, on the easy accessibility of I-5. She strongly supports Wyden’s legislation, and would specifically like to see more funding coming to Oregon.

“The first step is letting people know that it exists not only internationally, but in our own state.”


Published in: on November 18, 2009 at 8:29 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Is it cool if we use some of these photographs for our anti-sex trafficking video? We won’t use much, just a little as we’re looking to use clips and photos from many different people. We’re making it this week, so if you could let me know as soon as possible, that’d be great.



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