Bill could bring more help to survivors of sex trafficking

LAS VEGAS -- The war against sex trafficking could soon get more weaponry.

A bill which would provide more resources for victims of human trafficking passed in the House of Representatives Wednesday.

Metro Police's Vice Section rescued 91 women from the slave trade last year and 148 the year before.

The legislation could have an impact on men who trap these women. The prosecution of pimps wouldn't be possible without the rehabilitation of survivors, which is why Representative Joe Heck introduced the legislation.

The bill accesses millions of dollars for non-profits, who apply for money to serve homeless, runaway victims of severe trafficking.

Tina Harrington, director of facilities of the Walter Hoving Home, says her organization helps transform lives shattered by human trafficking, drugs and alcohol.

"It is so amazing how the community gives to us and how the churches give to us. That is how we survive," Harrington said. "It costs like $1,800 a month to rehabilitate a woman here."

It is long-term care, but Harrington says the reality of their resources is sometimes disappointing.

"We do need a bigger facility. We only have 10 beds here and we have to turn ladies away," Harrington said.

Now, House Bill 5076 rests in the hands of the Senate.

It provides millions of dollars to non-profits who serve runaway and homeless sex trafficking victims forced to perform manual labor or sex for money.

Lt. Karen Hughes with Metro's Vice Section says the Las Vegas valley's many organizations need more help.

"Those resources are invaluable. Right now, just to give a safe haven for those victims is critically important. They have to have some place to go that is going be a roof over their head," Hughes said.

There is another need these non-profits meet. By getting these women and girls off the street, Hughes says non-profits build enough confidence in survivors to help prosecute their former pimps.

"These women, when they have to testify, they've got detectives that are surrounding them. They've got their service providers. They've got the people that absolutely care about them beyond their testimony on the stand. And that is empowering to be able to look their abusers, their traffickers in the eye and say, ‘I'm not going to put up with this anymore,'" Lt. Hughes said.

Hughes says once the abuser is prosecuted they are unable to trap any more victims. So, the transformation can continue in the mind of the survivor.

"We have doctors, lawyers. We have pastors. Women that come out of trafficking, women that come out of their addictions and are better mothers and just better women," Harrington said.

No word on when the Senate will vote on this bill.


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