The US Congress approved on Tuesday an anti-human trafficking legislation which authorizes US$430 million to be spent over four years towards efforts to fight sex and labor trafficking both in the US and abroad. Named the Frederick Douglas bill for the iconic American abolitionist, the bill continues the “fight to end modern day slavery” according to the Republican congressman Rep. Chris Smith who proposed it.
The bill includes measures such as preventative education for children; shelter, therapy and reintegration for trafficking victims; the training of government officials and airline industry employees to identify and prevent possible cases of trafficking; encouraging international data sharing on trafficking; ensuring government procurement does not result in the employment of traffickers, as well as, facilitating trafficking-free supply chains for private commerce.
Of the total sum, $315 million will flow to the Department of State to fund prevention efforts internationally, while $78 million will go to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Smith is responsible for another four anti-trafficking bills including one which has so far resulted in 3,442 international entry bans for convicted pedophiles since 2016. The bill established country-to-country notification regarding those seeking to travel for the purposes of sex trafficking.
Sex workers across the US have previously protested against legislation intended to fight sex trafficking when US President Donald Trump signed controversial bills: the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) and the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) last year. Sex workers claimed the bills made them more vulnerable to exploitation.
In aiming to combat online exploitation of victims FOSTA/SESTA by targeting online providers of platforms where sex workers advertise, the bill weakened the 1996 Communications Decency Act which created a safe way for sex workers to screen clients by enabling users ownership of their own content.
The US government shutdown has not affected the passing of legislation.