- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2015

President Obama has signed a bill to punish people involved in human trafficking and provide resources to victims.

Yasmin Vafa, an official with the Human Rights Project 4 Girls, said Monday Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 means “survivors of child sex trafficking in the United States will finally receive the vital services and protections they deserve.”

For the first time, she said, federal law “specifically addresses domestic human trafficking and prioritizes the need to confront the demand for child sex.”

In the White House’s May 29 press statement, the administration said Mr. Obama signed S. 178, which amends several provisions of law under the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to “assist victims of human trafficking crimes and to combat human trafficking.”

The law steps up funding for anti-trafficking law enforcement and penalizes — with a $5,000 “special assessment” — people who are proven to have sold or bought a trafficked person, engaged in sexual abuse, child pornography, child sexual exploitation, interstate transportation for illegal sexual activity or commercial human smuggling.

Resources from the fines and a new Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund are to help victims rebuild new lives.

SEE ALSO: Human trafficking bill goes to Obama

The House overwhelmingly passed trafficking legislation in May and the Senate unanimously passed legislation in April, but had been held up earlier in the year over a partisan dispute involving reproduction services.

• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

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