State senators today approved legislation that would help protect the victims of sex trafficking and sent it to Governor Mary Fallin to be signed into law.
House Bill 2518, by state Rep. Sally Kern, expands the definition of human trafficking to include the act of recruiting, harboring or transporting a minor for the purpose of prostitution. The legislation also prohibits any attempt to claim the minor’s consent as a means of defense.
“This legislation will help district attorneys prosecute individuals involved in exploiting young men and women,” said Kern (R-Oklahoma City). “Sex trafficking is a horrendous crime that has become sadly prevalent in the U.S. Few people realize how widespread it has become because the crime is concealed in so many ways. Sex traffickers use violence, threats, false promises, debt bondage and other forms of control to keep their victims in line. That’s why the legislation has a provision dealing with consent, because no one should defend their crime by saying a child agreed to be exploited”
Oklahoma City police recently intervened when a 15-year-old girl was found prostituting on South Robinson Avenue.
“It is happening here in Oklahoma and we need to do what we can to help stop it,” Kern said. “It breaks my heart to hear of a young girl forced to participate in such a dehumanizing crime.”
House Bill 2518 passed unanimously in both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.