By Rachel Chinapen
HARTFORD — All 55 of Connecticut’s female legislators joined Friday in a bipartisanship to support a bill targeted at stronger penalties for human traffickers in Connecticut.
The proposal, H.B. 5666, is designed to fill loopholes in earlier legislation by adding prostitution, and third-degree promotion of prostitution, to the list of crimes subject to profit and property forfeiture upon arrest.
“This legislation aims to remove the financial gain aspect to perpetrators’ offenses, and penalizes the wrongdoer where it most impacts them, financially,” said state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas, R-Naugatuck.
Between 2008 and 2011, 100 survivors of human trafficking were identified by state agencies. Of those 100 survivors, 82 were children, according to Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and Trafficking in Persons Council chairwoman.
“I think oftentimes people put a face behind human trafficking that it’s happening ‘over there,’” Younger said. “No, it’s happening here in Connecticut.”
The state Department of Children and Families has seen a dramatic increase in the trafficking of minors in Connecticut over the past several years, according to William Rivera, DCF human trafficking team leader. Children involved in the welfare or foster systems are at a higher risk of being lured into trafficking and exploitation, according to Rivera. The average age of these children is 12.
On an international level, human trafficking is considered the third most profitable crime, and is a $32 billion industry, according to a 2012 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
While in the past there has been considerable support for legislation regarding human trafficking, this legislation is unique in that all 55 female legislators across the House and Senate signed on to co-sponsor the bill, according to state Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford.
“This is an issue that truly resonates across Connecticut, perhaps most particularly with women,” Ritter said.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, also came out in support of the bipartisan legislation in a statement released Friday. DeLauro labeled human trafficking as an “outrage” and ensured she would work to underline their efforts on the federal level.
“This is a bill that is necessary,” Rivera said. “I think all of us agree that it’s not sufficient and there is more to come, but it is necessary.”
Three male legislators also signed on to the bill.
Contact Rachel Chinapen at 2030-789-5714.