Lawmakers approve tougher human, sex trafficking penalties

Rosa Rebimbas
Rosa Rebimbas

HARTFORD — A bill designed to strengthen penalties for human and sex trafficking received unanimous support in the legislature this week.

“We took a historic step and passed strong legislation to protect vulnerable, innocent women from sex trafficking by removing the financial gain aspect for those who perpetrate such horrendous crimes whether it’s for labor purposes or the sex industry,” state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) said in a press release. “This legislation strengthens and expands the offenses of human and sex trafficking and prostitution, hits criminals in the wallet where they fear it most, and sets a precedent for the rest of the country to follow.”

H.B. 5666, An Act Concerning the Forfeiture of Moneys and Property Derived from Human or Sex Trafficking, is a combination of three separate bills.

The bill closes a loophole in current law that establishes a civil forfeiture procedure to seize tainted funds and property from sexual offenses. The law currently does not include prostitution and promoting prostitution on the list of offenses that would trigger a forfeiture of funds or property.

The legislation also increases criminal penalties for anyone hiring anyone under the age of 18 for sex, makes it easier to convict the perpetrators of human trafficking and allows the courts to vacate criminal convictions involving victims of trafficking, according to a press release issued by the office of state Rep. Theresa Conroy (D-105).

Theresa Conroy
Theresa Conroy

“Prostitution is not a victimless crime,” Conroy said in the release. “Every year women and children are forced into the meat grinder that is the sex industry. This legislation targets those that profit from prostitution and hits them in the wallet.”

According to the state’s Permanent Commission of the Status of Women, the state identified 100 human trafficking victims between 2008 and 2011 — 82 were children and all were female.

During the committee process all 55 of Connecticut’s female legislators co-sponsored the initiatives passed in the bill.

“Once again Connecticut chose to stand up to criminals and protect the vulnerable and innocent victims in our society by passing important legislation and I am honored to be a part of it,” Rebimbas said. “I want to make it clear that the sex trafficking business in Connecticut is closed for good.”