MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) — A state legislator says she is supporting two bills aimed at protecting victims of sex trafficking and helping get them off the streets.
State Senator Alberta Darling says both bipartisan bills were approved in Senate committees on Wednesday.
One bill, known as the Safe Harbor law, is intended to ensure trafficked children will not be charged for crimes they were forced to commit.
Senator Darling says under current law, an individual under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual relations.
“Despite that, minors who have been forced into having sexual relations because of trafficking can still be prosecuted for prostitution,” says Senator Darling.
She adds this bill will keep those who force children into sex trafficking will no longer be able to use the threat of prosecution for prostitution as a way to keep them from coming forward to law enforcement.
The second bill, Senate Bill 25, is intended to assist truck drivers in identifying sex trafficking.
All 72 counties in Wisconsin have reported incidents of human trafficking, according to Senator Darling.
This bill, which Senator Darling is coauthoring with State Senator LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, will help train truck drivers to recognize the signs of human trafficking.
Senator Darling says the education will give police more eyes and ears throughout Wisconsin.
“Sex trafficking isn’t a rural or an urban problem, it’s a statewide issue,” Darling says, “Truckers often find themselves on the front lines of where trafficking happens. This bill will help them recognize these crimes and contact law enforcement so it can be stopped.”
Both bills are now available for a vote in the full State Senate.
Senator Darling represents portions of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha Counties.