"For many years Illinois has been a hub for sex trafficking," Sen. Kirk said. "Because of our state's central location, traffickers use our transportation infrastructure, including O'Hare International Airport, to bring young women into the state and transport them elsewhere. It is long overdue that we exhaust every means possible to end the practice of pimps exploiting kids. Under the law young girls should be viewed as victims, not defendants. These victims deserve every possible opportunity for restitution - meaning prosecutors need to be able to go after coconspirators of these sex trafficking rings, not just the leaders.
Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking
According to the University of Illinois, in metropolitan Chicago 16,000 to 25,000 women and girls are involved in commercial sex trade annually, with one-third of them first getting involved in prostitution by the age of 15, and 62 percent by the age of 18. The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (SETT), introduced today by Senators Kirk, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) would combat sex trafficking by requiring minors who are sold for sex to be considered victims, not defendants. The safe harbor provisions from states like Illinois serve as a model for SETT.