1.We laud our legislators for establishing a victim’s fund, in order to fund restorative services for survivors of sex trafficking in the state of Iowa. We believe that a fine of $1,000 per sex trafficking violation will help to provide survivors trauma-informed counseling; wrap-around services by trained social service providers; and restorative services to aid in the transition to safety and community re-integration.
2.We laud our legislators for giving county attorneys the option of referring minor victims of sex trafficking as CINA (children in need of assistance), rather than to juvenile court for a delinquency proceeding. As currently stated, Senate File 2311 is aligned with both Iowa Code 710.A and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of the United States of America (which was recently reauthorized) in this matter. According to both Iowa Code 710.A and national law, any minor (under age 18) who is commercially sexually exploited is a victim of sex trafficking, whether or not force, fraud, or coercion by an adult can be proven. We believe that is because Senate File 2311 concurs with both state and national law that the Iowa Office of the Attorney General, furthermore, approves of this section in its current form.
As such, our honorable legislators were correct in removing language suggesting that the “control of an adult” needed to be proven, in order for a child to be referred as CINA, from Senate File 2311. To include such language would be antithetical to both state and national law, and would reflect misrecognition of the vulnerability and culpability of Iowa’s trafficked children. To be specific, when children are raped, 10 to 15 times a day, and forced to have oral, anal, and vaginal sex without protection, with men the ages of their fathers and grandfathers, and thus exposed to severe forms of trauma and disease, their victim status must be recognized, first by designating them as CINA and then by providing them the best restorative services possible.
3.We laud our legislators’ much-needed attention to the importance of training law enforcement about the issue of human trafficking, as stated in this memo. We believe that law enforcement training in this area, specifically as relates to the sex trafficking of our children and youth, is a critical step towards identifying exploited youth and rescuing them from situations where they are being raped, repeatedly, on a daily basis. Indeed, research by the FBI shows that the level of violence which sex trafficked youth incur is so severe that they are expected to live only seven years from the day their exploitation begins. When law enforcement professionals are trained, from the most junior to senior officers, children’s lives are indeed saved.
4.Thank you again for your considerate attention to the passage of this legislation, in its current form. This week, please expect further support for SF 2311 from our statewide affiliates, including Iowa’s leading anti-trafficking initiatives and organizations.