Harrisburg, Pa. - In 2019, Pennsylvania had the fourth most criminal human trafficking cases among U.S. states. In response to this pressing issue, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives has passed a bill package to provide additional protections to victims and to make it easier to prosecute traffickers.
Human trafficking refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of people through force, fraud, or deception for forced labor or sexual exploitation.
The crime frequently targets women and children and is the world's second largest criminal enterprise.
The bill package approved by the House includes:
- House Bill 231: Places human trafficking of minors for sexual servitude or abuse under the crime of unlawful contact with a minor
- House Bill 246: Bans defendants in trafficking cases from using a victim's past sexual victimization or allegations as evidence
- House Bill 580: Experts may testify about the dynamics of sexual servitude and other child sexual abuse offenses in court
- House Bill 753: The classification of trafficking infants will change from a misdemeanor to a first degree felony
- House Bill 843: Human trafficking offenses will join the list of convictions that influence child custody determination
- House Bill 1096: Flexibility for victims to file lawsuits where they reside or where violations occurred
- House Bill 1130: Traffickers affiliated with sexual servitude will need to register under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
- House Bill 1147: Those convicted of human trafficking involving sexual servitude or sexual abuse of a minor will require Department of Corrections counseling or therapy
The bills will go to the Senate for further consideration.
If you or someone you know is the victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.