Victims of sex trafficking are getting new support from Illinois politicians.
They want Congress to increase federal penalties and shutdown websites used for online sex trafficking.
President Obama recently called human trafficking modern day slavery.
Senator Mark Kirk says a large part of it can be blamed on websites that promote prostitution.
Sen. Kirk with Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez at his side today announced legislation that would crackdown on trafficking thru online sex ads.
Alvarez’s human trafficking unit has charged 93 defendants since it was created in 2010.
Kirk pointed out the need for a federal-local partnerships to end sex trafficking in the U.S.
Kirk took aim at one website in particular, backpage.com out of Arizona, which according to the National Association of Attorneys General is responsible for more than 70% of prostitution advertising in America. It’s adult services section is notorious for advertising on behalf of child sex traffickers.
According to the University of Illinois up to 25,000 women and girls are involved in commercial sex trade annually in the Chicago area.
“We have a unique role in our country of expanding human dignity and freedom to make sure human trafficking has no place inside the state of Illinois,” said Kirk.
Alvarez said, “It’s extremely frustrating for all us when we see these internet sites being allowed to ignore and legally skirt any type of responsibility for their actions. They earn their profits, support the criminal activity and then turn a blind eye to our children who are being pimped, prostituted, raped and tortured as direct result of the advertisements which these sites promote on daily basis. It’s high time for their reckless and immoral practices to end.”
Alvarez says many of these websites are able to get away with what they are doing simply because they exist online and require federal laws to shut them down.
That’s why Kirk is proposing federal legislation called “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act” or “SAVE”.
It would make it unlawful to sell or commercially promote an advertisement which among other things facilitates kidnapping, trafficking or exploitation of children.
Those convicted could be sent to prison for up to five years.
WGN reached out to the operators of the website, backpage.com for a comment, but they have not returned our calls.