WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today voted to pass H.R. 1865—legislation that includes key parts of a bill she introduced with a bipartisan group of senators to help stop online sex trafficking, ensure justice for trafficking survivors, and hold accountable websites that knowingly facilitate these crimes. Senator Capito issued the following statement after the legislation passed on a 97-2 vote:
“Human trafficking is an unconscionable crime that occurs all across the country—even right here in West Virginia—and the problem has only gotten worse with the rise of online trafficking. This legislation will protect women, children, and other victims of these horrible crimes and help put an end to online trafficking. It will also help to hold offenders accountable and prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. I was proud to support this important legislation, which will allow us to better protect the victims of exploitation and fight back against the criminals taking advantage of them.”
From 2010 to 2015, reports of suspected child sex trafficking increased 846 percent, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). Much of that spike, NCMEC reports, is “directly correlated to the increased use of the internet to sell children for sex”—with websites like Backpage.com knowingly facilitating sex trafficking. These websites have successfully evaded legal repercussions for their actions because of a section in the Communications Decency Act.
The bill passed by the Senate today corrects this problem by making narrowly crafted changes designed to hold websites that knowingly facilitate criminal sex trafficking accountable and give victims the justice they deserve. It also strengthens criminal penalties for websites that facilitate illegal prostitution or sex trafficking.
The legislation has the support of a broad range of law enforcement groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
More information on the legislation is available here.
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