Duluth Lawmaker wants tougher sex trafficking laws

By KBJR News 1

January 24, 2014 Updated Jan 24, 2014 at 5:41 PM CST

St. Paul, MN (NNCNOW.com) - A Minnesota lawmaker says he wants tougher laws regarding sex trafficking.

The big problem right now, according to Representative Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth), is lack of acceptance of the problem.

"One of the best ways to really put a dent in this issue is to make people aware of it and to start asking questions, because quite frankly, it’s happening all around. Many of us will look the other way and bury our head in the sand and don’t admit it’s happening," Rep. Simonson said.

There are a number of laws in the books right now that tackle prevention, protection, and prosecution, but Rep. Simonson claims the legislature can do more.

The Representative says a starting point is looking at how other states deal with sex trafficking, which often involves minors.

"It's like supply and demand. How do we solve this problem? Do we go after the Johns, or do we go after the folks that are soliciting these girls. Because the girls are the victims in this, right? That's ultimately what we want to stop," Rep. Simonson said.

The Representative says he wants to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to get the message out to the communities where this happening and making sure people know what's going on.

He also wants the legislature needs to look closely at current treatment programs, and the availability of shelters for victims.

The FBI ranks Minnesota as the 13th worst state for sex trafficking in the nation.

Written by Kevin Jacobsen
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