NATIONAL REVIEW EDITORIAL - The nation’s most recent political sex scandal — New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s involvement with a high-end call-girl ring — will doubtless provide much fodder for the late-night comedy shows. But American prostitution is no laughing matter: The victimization of women and girls, and sometimes men and boys, by pimps has been widely recognized throughout U.S. history.
In the mid-1800s, Congress passed a law criminalizing the importation of aliens for prostitution. In the early 1900s as part of the first international movement against sex trafficking, Congress passed the Mann Act, a law criminalizing the act of transporting persons across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.
In 2000, Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), making the pimping of persons under the age of 18, or pimping by means of fraud, force, or coercion, a serious federal felony. (“Pimping” is an informal term for what the TVPA 2000 calls “sex trafficking”: “The recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.”) And in 2006, the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act created new federal anti-trafficking crimes and enhanced the penalties of the Mann Act.
In December, the House of Representatives passed the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act by a vote of 405 to 2. The legislation modernizes and harmonizes existing federal laws against pimping to create a new set of criminal statutes, which will make the prosecution of sex-trafficking offenses easier and more efficient. It also creates a new international standard as a model for other countries...
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