On March 25, Erin Williamson of Love 146, an organization that works to end human trafficking and provides direct services to child trafficking victims, testified before the Connecticut House Judiciary Committee in favor of H.B.6657.
She explained, “currently our definition of human trafficking says that trafficking must occur in exchange for a fee, while in reality they are exchanged for other items such as drugs, shelter, and other items of value.
Unfortunately, under our current law, children who are exchanged for items of value rather than money are not being recognized as victims. Consequently, they are not able to receive services such as Love 146’s survivor care that supports victims as they recover and gain independence. Williamson says, “research does show that if you have friends or family members that have been trafficked, you are at higher risk of being trafficked yourself, so in order to decrease generational trafficking we have to get these victims services.”
Section 4 of H.B. 6657 will redefine sex trafficking by changing the language to extend to victims who are trafficked for other items of value. The new definition will align with the federal definition of trafficking and make sure victims aren’t dismissed and are able to receive services.”
Williamson says, “the exploitation those children experience, the violence they experience, the rape they experience is exactly the same whether the exchange takes place with money or drugs or other items.”