Sex trafficking ringleader Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire long accused of molesting minors, should be the wake-up call we need in America to encourage all states, including Illinois, to follow the lead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who recently signed into law an anti-human trafficking bill (HB 851).
The new law requires educating employees of massage parlors, hotels and adult theaters to recognize the red flags and evidence associated with human trafficking and calls for these employees to report any suspicious activity to the confidential National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888). Even more significant, those convicted of soliciting prostitution in our state will be subject to steep fines and included in a new Prostitution Public Database. Fines will be used to help survivors of this crime.
Education of law enforcement personnel is also a big component of the law to aid in their enforcement efforts and help them to understand that sex trafficking is not a choice. Traffickers, including Jeffrey Epstein, often seek to lure in minors who are homeless or have run away from abuse within their own home, as they are easier to groom. Traffickers build trusting and caring relationshipswith the exploited and eventually force them into selling their body for sex, using force, fraud, coercion, violence and threats to control them. Sex trafficking is second only to the drug trade and is the fastest growing crime in our nation. Sex trafficking destroys lives everywhere.
We must realize that victims are someone’s child, sister, brother or mother. This is happening in our own backyard. We need a united effort to put resources towards helping these victims, and to also impose stiff penalties to those sex traffickers like Jeff Epstein and others who are destroying lives as evident by a UN Report (Jan 2019) shows that human trafficking at the national and international level has taken on “horrific dimensions,” with sexual exploitation of victims being the main driver. Children now account for 30% of those being trafficked, and far more girls are detected than boys. Additionally, the White House issued a press statement in January that says the President is fighting to eradicate human trafficking. Human trafficking is a local, American epidemic targeting our own children.