Proposed laws you should know about: Protecting the Vulnerable from Human Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation

Illinois State Representative Chris Bos has long advocated for victims and survivors of Human Trafficking, both in his former role at a non-profit that worked to free children from sexual exploitation and now as a state lawmaker. For this session, he has filed several important pieces of legislation that protect victims of human trafficking and that put punitive disincentives in place to protect children from predators. 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 (SB593) to protect victim privacy, but there is much more we can do to stop future exploitation.”

  • HB4593 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. The legislation makes it the responsibility of the perpetrator to know the age of the person they are soliciting for sex. 
  • HB4592 increases the 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, foster care or other facilities serving youth. It also increases the penalties for repeat offenders who illegally solicit sex. This proposed law is designed to protect youth who may be susceptible to recruitment by unscrupulous individuals. 
  • HB4407 expands the Sex Offender Registration Act to include “involuntary sexual servitude of a minor” (underage sex trafficking or pimping). If passed, the law would require those convicted of forcing a child into commercial sexual activity to register as a sex offender.  
  • HB4402 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.

What is Human Trafficking?

According to Homeland Security, human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be of any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.

How You Can Help

If you or someone you know is being forced to engage in any activity and cannot leave, whether it is:

  • Commercial sex industry (street prostitution, strip clubs, massage parlors, escort services, brothels, pornography),
  • Private Homes (housework, nannies, servile marriages),
  • Farm work, landscaping, construction,
  • Factory (industrial, garment, meat-packing),
  • Peddling rings, begging rings, or door-to-door sales crews,
  • Hotel, retail, bars, restaurant work or
  • Any other activity
  • Had their passport or identification taken away or
  • Is being threatened with deportation if they won’t work

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, or Text "HELP" or "INFO" to 233733.

“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.”