Proos: Cracking down on human sex traffickingPublished 4:34pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012
By Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph
Human trafficking is the second-largest criminal industry in the world, devastating the lives of thousands of adults and children each year.
As a father, I believe sex trafficking is an especially egregious and disgusting crime since more than a third of cases involve the sexual exploitation of a child. That is why I strongly supported recent Senate legislation to help protect young girls and boys and end human sex trafficking in our state and nationwide.
Senate Bill 1213 would make the solicitation of a minor age 16 or 17 to commit prostitution or any other lewd or immoral act a felony punishable by imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of not more than $10,000 or both. A companion measure, SB 1221, would establish the sentencing guidelines for the new felony.
This crackdown targets the source of the problem: The person soliciting the prostitute, which results in thousands of women and children being sexually exploited. The bill would ensure that anyone attempting to exploit a child would receive a severe punishment that fits the severe impact of their crime.
Human trafficking occurs if a person is induced to perform labor or a sex act through force, fraud or coercion. However, any person under the age of 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim regardless of any factors.
While we don’t often think about this terrible crime happening in our great state, unfortunately it does. That is why Michigan’s human trafficking laws were strengthened in 2010.
In March, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s new Human Trafficking Unit secured the first conviction under the new laws. A 32-year-old Detroit man was convicted on eight counts for enslaving two girls age 14 and 15 and forcing them to engage in prostitution. Right here in Michigan, five additional defendants are currently facing human trafficking charges for running a prostitution ring in Detroit.
If you are a victim of human trafficking or if you know someone who may need help, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-888-373-7888.
For more information about human trafficking visit the attorney general’s website at: www.michigan.gov/humantrafficking.
Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.