Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000:
This is the first comprehensive federal law to address trafficking in persons. The law provides a three-pronged approach that includes prevention, protection, and prosecution. The TVPA was reauthorized through the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, 2005, and 2008.
Under U.S. federal law, “severe forms of trafficking in persons” includes both sex trafficking and labor trafficking:
- Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (22 USC § 7102; 8 CFR § 214.11(a)).
- Labor trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery (22 USC § 7102).
Safe Harbors Law, SF1/HF1, Special Session Public Safety / Judiciary Bill, Article 4 Sexually Exploited Youth
This legislation allows Minnesota to build a system that responds appropriately and effectively to child victims of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking (prostitution). Included in the omnibus public safety budget bill that Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law on July 20, 2011, Safe Harbors Minnesota does the following:
- Treats sexually exploited (prostituted) children (under age 16) as victims in need of protection, not criminals, and establishes a mandatory first referral to services for youth ages 16 and 17;
- Increases fines on “johns” to create a funding stream for supportive services; and
- Develops a victim-centered statewide service model.
- Explicitly defines sexually exploited (prostituted) youth and sex trafficking (prostitution) victims as children in need of protection or services.
- Excludes sexually exploited (prostituted) youth and sex trafficking (prostitution) victims from the definition of delinquency. This provision phases in, effective 2014, to ensure that adequate systems to address sexually exploited (prostituted) youth are in place.
- Amends the definition of “prostitute” to include only individuals 18 years of age or older, effective 2014.
- Charges the commissioner of public safety, in consultation with the commissioner of health, the commissioner of human services, and other stakeholders to develop a victim services model to address the needs of sexually exploited (prostituted) youth and youth at risk of sexual exploitation (prostitution).
- Increases penalties for buyers of prostitution with revenue split between service providers, prosecutors, and law enforcement.
MN 609.322: Solicitation, Inducement and Promotion of Prostitution; Sex Trafficking
- 609.322, subd. 1(a) (solicitation, inducement and promotion of prostitution, sex trafficking; individual under 18) will be ranked at severity level B on the sex offender grid.
- 609.322 subd. 1a (same issue, but individual is 18 or older) will be ranked at severity level C on the sex offender grid.
MN 609.352: Solicitation of a Child to Engage in Sexual Conduct; Communication of Sexually Explicit Materials to Children
- “Child” means a person 15 years of age or younger; “sexual conduct” means sexual contact of the individual’s primary genital area, sexual penetration, or sexual performance; and “solicit” means commanding, entreating, or attempting to persuade a specific person in person, by telephone, by letter, or by computerized or other electronic means.
- A person 18 years of age or older who solicits a child or someone the person reasonably believes is a child to engage in sexual conduct is guilty of a felony.
MN 617.245 and 617.246: Use of Minor in a Sexual Performance
- The use of minors (anyone under 18) in sexual performances is prohibited. It is illegal for a person to promote, employ, use, or permit a minor to engage in, or assist others in, posing or modeling (alone or with others) in any sexual performance. Promoting includes producing, directing, publishing, manufacturing, issuing, or advertising. Sexual performances: include any play, dance or other exhibition presented before an audience, or for the purposes of visual or mechanical reproduction, which depicts sexual conduct (MN 617.246, subd. 1).
For up to date information on pending state and federal legislation, click here.
- In February 2011, county attorneys in the seven-county Twin Cities’ metro area announced that they will no longer prosecute any child who is a victim of prostitution. Instead, the children will be treated as victims and will be protected. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said, “By using a victim-centered approach that is cost-effective and sound public policy for these children, we can truly give them the appropriate intervention and treatment necessary for their safety and welfare, while protecting our communities.”
- In May 2011, St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin and local law enforcement announced new policies and procedures to ensure that children trafficked as prostitutes are treated as victims in need of protection and services, not as juvenile delinquents.
- Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed Safe Harbor into law on July 20, 2011. The law will treat commercially sexually exploited youth (under age 16) as victims in need of protection, not criminals; increase fines on “johns;” and develop a statewide victim-centered service model.
- At the Federal level, a Safe Harbor bill passed the Senate in 2010, but was not heard in the House. The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 was read twice in the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.
INVESTING IN YOUTH
- “Vulnerability” is the one thing that all girls who are sexually trafficked have in common, making them easy targets by predators. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s girlsBEST (girls Building Economic Success Together) Fund program is a sure antidote. By engaging our state’s most vulnerable girls, girlsBEST helps transform them from vulnerable girls to confident young leaders, building a sure pathway to their future economic success along the way. We encourage institutions and individuals to make investments in programs that support vulnerable youth and ensure their ability to thrive.