WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) hosted a news conference call as he marks National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Brown has introduced and continues to call for action on his PROTECT Act, which would help crack down on human trafficking and better support victims in Ohio.
“Traffickers often exploit drug addiction, or expose victims to drugs for the first time, to control or force victims into prostitution and other forced labor,” said Brown. “These crimes are already heinous enough – fanning the flames of a drug addiction only makes victims’ trauma worse, and makes it that much harder for them to recover. This bill has support across the political spectrum, and we have the endorsement of both law enforcement organizations and trafficking victims advocacy groups. We need to continue that bipartisan momentum, and get law enforcement the authority they need to bring traffickers to justice.”
Brown’s PROTECT Act, which is supported by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), would:
- Amend existing human trafficking law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or forced labor constitutes a form of coercion; and
- Include a provision in the bill to protect trafficking victims from prosecution, recognizing that victims are often forced to commit crimes by virtue of their own victimization.
Brown was joined on today’s call by central Ohioan Dr. Marlene Carson, a human trafficking survivor and Founder of The Switch, a national anti-human trafficking network that provides training and education to schools and the community to better respond to the needs of victims of trafficking, including the early identification of at-risk children.
“In this anti-trafficking month I would like to acknowledge those who are no longer with us. Those that didn’t stand a chance because of a trafficker creating a habit that victims couldn’t break,” said Dr. Carson. “Civil rights leader Flonzie Brown Wright reminds us that ‘movements change, but commitments don’t.’ We must understand that drugs are a gateway for traffickers and we change with this movement in order to help victims. Victims are being controlled by drugs and fear. Traffickers need to be held Responsible. We need to pass the PROTECT Act and protect victims and break cycles.”
Brown first introduced the bill last Congress, and will continue pushing for its passage.
A number of law enforcement organizations and human trafficking victim advocacy groups have endorsed the PROTECT Act, including: Fraternal Order of Police, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition (NNOAC), National Sheriffs’ Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association, International Union of Police Associations, Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation, Covenant House, National District Attorneys Association, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, The Switch, Truckers Against Trafficking, Shared Hope International, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CAT-W), Living In Freedom Together (LIFT), National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Child Welfare League of America, Love 146, My Life My Choice, Rights4Girls, Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, Trafficking in America Task Force.
A one-pager on the PROTECT Act can be found HERE.
In December, Brown helped secure $37 million that would fund expanded research into human trafficking victims and perpetrators. In 2018, Sens. Brown, Portman and Cornyn introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and secured its passage. The bill was signed into law by President Trump in April 2018. This legislation clarified Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites like Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.