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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: January 11, 2023 03:09 PM
From: Senator Cris Dush and Sen. Maria Collett, Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Ensuring Victims of Human Trafficking Have Access to Services
                To coincide with Human Trafficking Awareness Month in January, we plan to introduce legislation that will remove the third-party control requirement when classifying minors exploited for commercial sex as victims of human trafficking.

                Crime victims often feel the impact of interpersonal power dynamics and social pressures when considering stepping forward to report the crime or identify their perpetrator(s). These tasks can create even more stress for minors and victims of sex crimes. Under current Pennsylvania law, a minor that is exploited for commercial sex must identify a third party to be considered a victim of human trafficking. Placing this limitation minimizes the role buyers play in fueling demand and engaging in the exploitation that trafficking laws are designed to address, but it also prevents child victims from being identified as victims for the purposes of receiving appropriate support services. 
                There are several reasons why exploited children may be unwilling to identify a trafficker. The trafficker may be a family member, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a caregiver, a drug dealer, or any other abuser that the child feels attached to through previously established relationships or trauma bonding. The child may also be blackmailed or threatened, preventing them from identifying their trafficker.

                Even without a controlling party, a child who is too young to consent to sex is unable to consent to commercial sex. Additionally, this legislation will allow law enforcement to pose as a third party who is selling a minor into sex when acting undercover consistent with the authority already granted to officers appearing undercover as minors in Title 18.
                By limiting the definition of “victim of human trafficking” and requiring third party control, commercially sexually exploited children who are unable or unwilling to identify a trafficker, as well as those who are not under the control of a trafficker, are precluded from accessing relief and services needed for restoration and healing. Exploited children have been subjected to immeasurable trauma and should not have to identify a controlling party to receive the services that they desperately need. This legislative effort will remove that barrier.

Please join us in cosponsoring this important legislation

Document #1

Introduced as SB44

Description: This first piece of legislation is sponsored by Senator Dush and removes third party control from Titles 18 and 23.

Document #2

Description: This second piece of legislation is sponsored by Senator Collett and removes third party control from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline Notification Act (Act 197 of 2012).