The House International Relations Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would provide new penalties for international traffickers in women and children. Nearly 50,000 women and girls are brought into the United States each year for sexual exploitation. Under this measure, traffickers could face life imprisonment in cases involving kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse or attempted murder.
The bill, authored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), authorizes $94.5 million over two years, including $75 million for victim assistance and international programs designed to raise awareness of sexual trafficking in women and girls. The bill also includes a requirement that the president establish an international task force to monitor and combat sex trafficking and gives him the authority to deny non-humanitarian aid to governments that do not take steps to eliminate trafficking in women and girls.
Victims of sexual trafficking are tricked, deceived and even sold into indentured servitude as they are moved across national boundaries. Usually they are poor, desperate women and girls trying to survive and help their destitute families. Vulnerable, they are taken advantage of and abused by professional traffickers.