By Aubrey Burgess
The Hyde Senate bill number 55 is about human trafficking. The bill would protect someone forced into human trafficking when they are under 18 who breaks free when they are over 18, from being charged as a prostitute. The bill reflects the principle that he or she continues to be a victim. This bill would provide victims a better escape from their traffickers. The bill as amended also abolishes the age limit on the definition of human trafficking, so at any age if someone is trafficked they will not be accused of prostitution.
Two amendments to the bill were not passed. One was made to protect the victims that are illegal immigrants from being deported for 12 months, but after realizing that 12 months was not a long enough period the amendment writer asked the people to vote against his amendment. The second failed amendment would have raised the fine for the perpetrators.
“The bill is not to charge the people who have forced the victims into human trafficking but to protect the victim,” said the bill’s sponsor and presenter, Catherine Wismar, an 11th grader at Vista ridge High School. “One of the main problems was discerning between prostitution and human trafficking and I had a little bit of an issue trying to convince people that I wasn’t necessarily about legalizing prostitution; it was more so about protecting the people who have been human trafficked.”
Taylor Alice was for this bill saying, “We don’t have any personal experience. … Anyone who is forced to do something should not be prosecuted for it. …You can claim to be forced into human trafficking without evidence.” Another person who was for this bill is Kevin Way who believes that “there should be no age limit for trafficking,” and that this bill will solve that issue.
“The fines on this bill are absolutely dismal…Even if the fines were doubled they are absolutely dismal,” said Zachary Myer. “Also the bill writer has found no way of finding the difference between human trafficking and prostitution so a prostitute could claim to have been trafficked.”
“Coerced prostitution is one of the primary forms of exploitation that trafficked women and girls are subjected to in the developed world. Legalized prostitution allows traffickers to hide victims in plain sight as consenting sex workers. Legal or decriminalized pandering makes a portion of a sex trafficking victims venture legitimate. In recent decades, several countries have changed their policies and laws on prostitution. Because there is a positive correlation between commercial sex work, human trafficking and organized crime”, says the Huffington Post.
The bill passed after 30 minutes of arguments. “I think it went really well. I think that there was a lot of good debate about it and I am happy that it did get passed,” says Wismar.