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Rep. Wagner blasts sex trafficking offenders, calls trafficking ‘modern day slavery’

Ann Wagner
St. Louis Regional Chamber | File photo
St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Assoc.

For the first time in 13 years, Congress has passed new regulations on human sex trafficking. On May 29, The Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act of 2015 (JVTA) was signed by President Obama.

The bill is comprised of a number of specifications, which include:

  • Providing for safe harbor laws that stop the criminalization of young minors that are sold into human trafficking
  • Improving of law enforcement and prosecutor tools
  • Collecting of state and national data on trafficking
  • Providing training to federal employees on human trafficking
  • Establishing a Domestic Trafficking Victims Fund, in which fines and seized assets from offenders will go to the victims.

“There are tens of thousands of victims right here in America every single year that are being exploited and that fall prey to this kind of modern day slavery,” Wagner said. “There’s one scam after another to try and get these girls and young boys into this hideous, horrible victimized life. We’re going to do whatever we can to continue to increase awareness.”
The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act (SAVE), a bill authored by Wagner, would criminalize offenders who knowingly advertise or profit from the commercial advertising of human trafficking on websites such as Backpage, and others. In 2013, trafficking advertisers generated upwards of $45 million, Wagner stated. The SAVE Act is just one section of the overall JVTA, which also includes The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act and The Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act.

“Right now [offenders] will pay a website like Backpage.com and others to advertise,” Wagner explained. “We would be able to track them (via The SAVE Act) and they will be prosecuted.”

On May 30, the Magdalene House held its opening ceremony in the city’s Old North neighborhood. The residential program will cater to women who have been victims of sex trafficking.

“Those of you who have been posting and paying a fee to put these women on the internet,” Wagner added, “You are going to jail.”

Wagner also discussed her views on gun control and the recent debate surrounding the Confederate Flag in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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