A NIGERIAN terrorist group’s outrageous threats to sell hundreds of kidnapped girls into slavery is cause for worldwide condemnation.
This brazen operation by Boko Haram should force political leaders to address a crisis both abroad and at home. Underage youths everywhere, including an estimated 100,000 in the United States each year, are forced to sell their bodies.
In the U.S., the sex industry thrives thanks to the Internet, where websites such as Backpage.com advertise with little regard for the fact that many of the salacious photos posted on the site are of minors.
Controlled by pimps, these workers are moved like chattel from city to city.
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Republicans and Democrats in Congress say they’re united in the fight against trafficking, but the talk must lead to passage of bills with real legal teeth.
The U.S. House of Representatives should send to the Senate four landmark measures awaiting a floor vote:
• HR 3530, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2013, would provide additional resources to help law enforcement conduct sex-trafficking investigations involving youths.
• HR 3610 would mandate that state authorities treat commercially exploited youths as victims of abuse, not criminals, and provide them with access to counseling.
• HR 4225, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act of 2014, makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from advertisements — through any medium — offering commercial sex acts by minors.
• HR 4058, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities for Youth in Foster Care Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, would help an especially vulnerable group of youths with programs and services to keep them off the streets and away from pimps.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).