Fred in the News
WWMT Newschannel 3: Congressman Fred Upton votes yes to efforts fighting online sex trafficking
Congressman Fred Upton votes yes to efforts fighting online sex trafficking
Franque Thompson/Newschannel 3
March 1, 2018
Law enforcement will soon be equipped with new tools to help crack down on online sex trafficking as part of a new bill.
The Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, in a 388 to 25 vote, Wednesday and Congressman Fred Upton, R-Michigan, cast one of the votes in favor of the proposal to fight the growing crime.
“I was proud to stand with my colleagues – Republicans and Democrats alike – to take much-needed action against online sex trafficking. We must continue to work together on this vitally important issue,” Upton said in a written statement.
Rebecca McDonald, founder of Women At Risk International, (WAR) is applauding Upton and other elected officials for the favorable vote.
Calling it a step in the right direction, McDonald said, “Our Representatives and our Senators are listening. The good news is the government cares at the highest levels... I'm not thankful when bad things happen but I'm glad that as a nation that when it gets enough of our attention we stop we listen and we try to address the problem.”
WAR headquarters are located in Grand Rapids. The facility is home to a cafe and boutique, where every item made and sold helps victims around the world recover from abusive crimes.
“We're giving them a safe place to rebuild and find dignity and worth at their own pace and in their own way,” McDonald said. “It is our passion to help them rebuild their lives and give them a safe place. Wrap arms of love around them.”
McDonald said human trafficking is the number one problem in all 53 countries it serves.
“The reason human trafficking is a wild fire today and it never was before is because of the internet,” McDonald, the WAR founder, said. “We have got to be responsible and step into this issue of cyber crime.”
McDonald said the organization has responded to victims as young as infants six days old. She said children are at highest risk of online sex trafficking.
“13-year-old goes to a sleepover in Pensacola, Florida, and she's sold on the internet for $300,000 for her virginity. Somebody has to step up to the plate,” McDonald said. “We are selling our children out. The FBI estimates that 300,000 minors--that's just minor statistic--in this country are for sale at any given time throughout the year.”
Upton said H.R. 1865 creates a new federal anti-trafficking law that specifically promote or facilitate online prostitution.
“This legislation will provide new tools for our law enforcement officials to prosecute criminal websites that knowingly facilitate illegal prostitution and sex trafficking and allow victims to keep much-needed restitution,” Upton said in a written statement.
“Until it filters down to the mom at the sleep overs and the cop on the beat nothing will change. And so, our congressmen and our congresswomen and our senators are finally stepping into this because it is the fastest growing arm of crime,” McDonald said. “If you push the laws to the limit they're there for you. And so, we need these laws because without them we don't have the arm of the legal Arm and it's so important.”