Help Put an End to Sex Trafficking-Contact Your Senator Today!

Nebraskans for Peace has worked hard on LB 255 and LB 256 in this last session of the legislature. LB 255 emerged from the Judiciary Committee somewhat amended, but it is still a good bill. The current Nebraska Report contains the following paragraphs about LB 255 (now slightly revised) as it emerged from the Committee and passed a first round vote. (The full article, On Trafficking, is below):

Within the state, Amanda McGill sponsored LB 255 to decriminalize prostitution for minors and women that can show their captivity. LB 255 also changed the penalty for being a pimp or john to make it a felony. (The bill also contains some useful labor trafficking provisions.) The bill in its original form was the most useful anti-trafficking bill proposed in this country and perhaps the best in the world aside from that passed in Sweden in 2002. Nebraskans for Peace has an interest in this anti-trafficking law, given its interest in fairness for labor, its “Turn Off the Violence” program that includes trafficking as one of its concerns, and the probable trafficking of Lakota women in the context of White Clay. LB 255 has had some of its strongest provisions stripped by the good old boys in the legislature --that is, in particular the names and pictures of pimps and john’s will not be published on a state register and they will not be treated as felons if they have not solicited minors. But it is still a good bill.

Please write or email your state senator to call for its passage, even if it is not perfect. We can try to get back the eliminated provisions in another session. I and Nebraskans for Peace have worked hard for many months on this legislation.

This is an area where Nebraskans can lead and where Nebraskans for Peace can contribute to the reduction of violence against women and their being forced into a form of bondage.

Please contact your state legislator. Click HERE to find your senator.


On Trafficking

by Paul Olson, NFP President Emeritus

I went to see Steven Spielberg’s film, Lincoln. It was a good enough film, with its gray grainy color, its presentation of the folksy/Machiavellian Lincoln (all in the cause of good), and its depiction of a strong Mary Todd Lincoln. In one respect though, I found the film wanting. It speaks as if the 13th Amendment ended slavery. It did not—either here or abroad.

First of all, we had the re-creation of slavery for African-Americans in the South under the vagrancy laws that permitted southern law enforcement to randomly arrest any black persons walking outside their sharecropper farms, incarcerate them, and then farm them out to corporations where they were often worked to death for no pay. That practice stopped only in the 1940s. Then we have had, across the last century and a half, the trafficking of Asian and Hispanic peoples for work on farms and in the clothing industry. Finally we have sex slavery here and abroad.

Recently, Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times who has helped us with Whiteclay, and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, prepared a several-hour long broadcast, Half the Sky, covering the sex trafficking of children and young women in Africa and Southern/Southeast Asia. Clearly, the trafficked persons were slaves—locked up, beaten, sold by the owners for profit, with no future beyond addictive, dependency–creating drugs and AIDS. The program estimated that about three million women and children (mostly women and children) are sold or driven into slavery around the world presently; the UN estimate is 4 million persons. (In comparison, the South held about four million slaves in 1860.) In this country, about 300,000 girls constantly are in slavery, and we do not know how many U.S. women not minors are so held. The average age of the movement of children into sexual slavery is 11-13 (also the average age in Nebraska). The main tool that the international community might have employed against such slavery—specifically the “International Violence Against Women Act”—has not been passed out of committee by the Congress. Neither of our Christian Nebraska senators was a co-sponsor or did anything to move it along. Nor did any of our representatives. Nationally, the “Violence Against Women Act” that applies to internal trafficking has finally been renewed, though our congressional representatives all voted against it while our senators split their votes. Deb Fischer—the only female member of our federal delegation—voted for it after receiving much pressure from women’s groups because she appeared to be the only woman in the halls of the Capitol who would oppose it.

Within the state, State Senator Amanda McGill sponsored LB 255 to decriminalize prostitution for minors and women that can show their captivity. LB 255 also changed the penalty for being a pimp or john to make it a felony. (The bill also contains some useful labor trafficking provisions.) In my view, the bill in its original form was the most useful anti-trafficking bill proposed in this country and perhaps the best in the world, aside from that passed in Sweden in 2002. Nebraskans for Peace of course has had a direct interest in this anti-trafficking legislation, given our historic commitment to labor justice, our “Turn Off the Violence” program that includes trafficking as one of its concerns, and the probable trafficking of Lakota women in the context of Whiteclay’s alcohol trade. Months of effort have already been devoted to its adoption.

LB 255 though has had some of its strongest provisions stripped by the good old boys in the legislature—in particular, that the names of pimps and johns will not be published on a state register and they will not be treated as felons if they have not solicited minors. But it is still a good bill. I personally would appreciate your studying the provisions of the amended bill as they appear on the state legislative website and your writing to your state senator to call for its passage, even though it is not perfect. We can try to get back the eliminated provisions in another session.

(I should note that, as of this writing, there also appears to be some momentum in the legislature to put back the provisions stripped the bill. Please support those measures if and when they do appear.)

We need more than a law, though. We need a culture that cares as much about women and children as good ole boys. The trafficking study commissioned by the state legislature and the information gathered by Al Riskowski of the Nebraska Family Council show clearly that trafficking is common in the state, not only in Omaha and Lincoln and the truck stops along I-80, but in towns. Businessmen who go to another town for negotiations or a business conference patronize trafficked women at noon—runaways, abused girls and drug-addicted captives. Sometimes they are undocumented who are pushed into the trade by threats that they will be exposed as not carrying a green card.

The drug trade always flourishes with trafficking, and if you wish to do something about hard drugs, pass sane trafficking laws. We, on the Left, may have contributed to the problem of the objectification of women and monetization of what should be personal by speaking of the sex business as if it were private entrepreneurship, as if it were empowering to women, or as if it made its victims happy, as in the popular ’70s novel, The Happy Hooker. We were wrong.

We need to get this straight. Trafficked people are captive people. Spielberg’s movie is a fiction. Slavery has not ended. If we rekindle—in our women’s groups, our peace groups, our church groups, and in decent male groups—the indignation of the 1850s abolitionists, we can end yet one more form of slavery. We should run out the rascals who support it in the streets and in the legislature.

 

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