US service members convicted of soliciting a prostitute could face dishonorable discharge and up to one year in prison if a proposed change to the Uniform Code of Military Justice is made law. The Pentagon announced the new regulation earlier this week as part of an effort to tackle the international problem of human trafficking. US troops would be subject to this regulation even in countries where prostitution is legal.
The Washington Post reports that Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ) recently stated that, in areas such as South Korea and the Balkans, “women and girls are being forced into prostitution for a clientele consisting largely of military services member, government contractors and international peacekeepers.” The Pentagon is also working to ensure that the law would also be applicable to defense contractors, allowing the termination of contracts with companies whose employees are caught patronizing prostitutes, according to the Stars and Stripes.
The Washington Post reports that earlier this summer, NATO officials adopted new guidelines to curtail the encouragement of sex trafficking by alliance peacekeepers who were seeking out prostitutes. There are currently an estimated 800,000 women, men, and children worldwide who are victims of sex trafficking, according to the Stars and Stripes.