Tuesday, January 31, 2012

SB 146: Nick Moser Gets This One Right

Representative Nick Moser is one of the South Dakota House sponsors of SB 146, "An Act to provide for an affirmative defense of compulsion for the crime of prostitution."  The brief bill states,
Section 1. That chapter 22-23 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
It is an affirmative defense to a charge of prostitution under § 22-23-1 if the defendant proves by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is a victim of human trafficking under chapter 22-49 or that the defendant committed the act only under compulsion by another person who, by implicit or explicit threat, created a reasonable apprehension in the mind of the defendant that if the defendant did not commit the act, the person would inflict bodily harm upon the defendant.
As I understand it, an affirmative defense is something like claiming self defense if one is attacked and kills the attacker.  I don't know how hard it is to prove "by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is a victim of human trafficking" but this bill seems a step in the right direction.

According to the UN Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking,

An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking
Further, UN.GIFT reports,
95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries)
43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, South Dakota had 12 calls from July 1-September 30, 2011, so trafficking may not be a affect a huge number of people, but the magnitude of the crime if it affects even one person deserves all the attention it can get. Its victims deserve all the protection they can get.

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