Act 105 makes it easier to defend victims of sex trafficking and to prosecute sex buyers in the state of Pennsylvania. The law now outlines clearer definitions about what sex trafficking is, giving law enforcement the tools they need to investigate and hold sex buyers accountable for their crimes. Under this Act, survivors of sex trafficking now have the option to sue the people or organizations that participated in or profited from their victimization. In addition, Act 105 calls on state officials to take the necessary steps to prevent human trafficking from happening in the first place.
Our goal is to raise awareness about Act 105 and make it available to a larger audience, so more people are aware of this important step forward in helping victims of sex trafficking. We hope you will read on and understand the importance of Act 105 and help us spark conversations about what sex trafficking is and how it impacts our society, both within the state of Pennsylvania and in the United States as a whole. This public awareness will help steer our state in the direction of prevention, and you can help by encouraging your State representatives to take human trafficking seriously.
Why a new law? Doesn’t the United States have federal laws about trafficking?
Before PA Act 105,, the sex trafficking laws in Pennsylvania were not working. Many victims of sex trafficking were not properly represented or taken care of, and sex buyers were not being punished for their horrible crimes. Sometimes, law enforcement officials would end up punishing victims of trafficking because the existing laws did not encompass the many different ways people become coerced or trapped into sex trafficking. Additionally,the previous laws did not take into account the role the Internet is now playing in the world of sex trafficking. In order to address these problems, more than 30 anti-trafficking organizations and coalitions came together to form the Pennsylvania Alliance Against Trafficking in Humans (PAATH) and to write Act 105.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why use the word “sex buyer” rather than the term “John”?
“Sex buyer” more accurately describes those who buy sex, rather than “John.” Sex buyers are purchasing a human being in exchange for their own gratification.
What’s the harm in using the word pimp?
The word “pimp” is used in pop culture to glorify traffickers. The images and associations related to “pimps” do not reveal the oppressive and destructive reality they cause victims of sex trafficking.
What is involved in the prosecution of traffickers?
If a trafficker knowingly recruits, transports, provides, harbors, maintains or recklessly ignores an individual unwillingly in servitude OR benefits at all financially or otherwise from trafficking individuals, this is a second degree felony. This becomes a first degree felony when involving a minor in sexual servitude.
What is involuntary servitude?
– Coercion (persuading an individual to do something through force or threat)
– Controlling an individual’s access to drugs or alcohol
– Threatening an individual
– Threatening to hurt those the individual cares about
– Extortion (receiving money by threatening the individual)
– Threatening or manipulating the individual with physically harm, or threatening someone else’s safety
What are the consequences if you’re a sex buyer?
It’s a second degree offense to buy sex knowing the individual is being trafficked. The individual may be subject to investigation by law enforcement to determine their knowledge of the situation, as well as be fined.
What if a business, like a hotel, knowingly participates and allows trafficking to take place?
The business may face a fine of up to $1,000,000, as well as lose their ability to conduct business.
What if the victim signs a contract to be sold for sex?
A signed fraudulent contract by the victim is not a usable defense for a sex trafficker.
How are victims of sex trafficking protected during prosecution of their trafficker ?
The name of the victim cannot be used by any employee of the court or an officer, and any record revealing the name of the victim will not be available to the public. If a victim of human trafficking is charged with solicitation for the first time, they will be considered for a diversionary program (rehabilitation program). If the charge is dropped, the court must delete all records of these charges.
What can be done to prevent human trafficking in PA?
Based on the availability of funds, the state will award grants to develop and expand programs to help victims of trafficking find housing, health, legal, and employment services.
Act 105 also calls on the state of Pennsylvania to train first responders to identify victims of human trafficking and to create a public awareness around human trafficking.