State Representative Chris Bos (R-Lake Zurich) has recently filed four pieces of legislation to improve protections for victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Bos, who previously worked at a non-profit to support child victims of sexual exploitation, continues to advocate for policies that target the perpetrators of exploitation and increase protections for their victims. January is also National Human Trafficking Prevention Month and an opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of human trafficking.
“It’s hard to imagine, but everyday children and other vulnerable people become victims of sexual exploitation and human trafficking, even in communities we see as safe,” said Bos. “The abusers who profit off these crimes are constantly evolving their tactics and we have to be as committed as they are to improving our policies that protect victims and keep abusers off the streets. We took a step forward last year by passing a new law to protect victim privacy, but there is much more we can do to stop future exploitation.”
As Bos referenced, last year the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed Senate Bill 593 into law. The legislation, which Bos co-sponsored, enables victims to protect their privacy by adding human trafficking to the Address Confidentiality for Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Human Trafficking, or Stalking Act.
Bos’ new legislation includes:
- House Bill 4593 prevents sexual predators from claiming they did not know the person they solicited for sex was underage or was a person with an intellectual disability.
- House Bill 4592 increases penalties for human traffickers and abusers who target children in particularly vulnerable settings, such as shelters and safes houses for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, homelessness or even foster care. It also increases the penalties for repeat offenders who illegally solicit sex from adults, children or a person with an intellectual disability.
- House Bill 4407 requires those convicted of “involuntary sexual servitude of a minor” (underage sex trafficking or pimping) to register as a sex offender.
- House Bill 4402 creates the Human Trafficking Order of Protection Act to provide the same protection status to human trafficking victims that those of other forms of abuse can access.
“There is no silver bullet to stop sexual abusers and traffickers, but these new pieces of legislation specifically target the tactics and tricks they use to coerce new victims,” said Bos. “If we can make it harder for the predators to escape justice, we make it less lucrative and ensure fewer children and vulnerable people become victims.”