By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Thursday, April 7, the Alabama House of Representatives passed the Safe Harbor Act, House Bill 433, which is sponsored by State Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia).
Rep. Williams wrote in a statement, “This bill protects child victims of human trafficking and increases the penalties on individuals who seek to buy sex. A recent study released by Shared Hope International, an organization committed to fighting human trafficking, 5 percent of the men in the United States had gone online looking to purchase sex and half of them were seeking sex from a child. 75 percent of trafficked children are girls and 25 percent are boys, some as young as six years old.”
Rep. Williams said, “This is an epidemic in our nation that must be stopped.”
Speaking on the floor of the legislature Williams said that HB433 would raise the fine for solicitation to $500. For the third offense it becomes a class C felony. It also moves solicitation from municipal court to district court. The bill would also stop the courts from treating a minor who is selling sex as a criminal and instead goes after the people who are soliciting the minor for sex and the people who are marketing that minor.
Rep. Merika Coleman-Evans (D from Midfield) said that she supported Williams efforts to fight sex trafficking in Alabama, the bill, and commended him for his work.
William told the legislators, “We have got to start taking prostitution, particularly child prostitution, seriously.
Rep. Jack Williams said that the internet has provided opportunities for men to seek out sex, particularly with children, like never before. They are predators for children. Most children are pimped out the first time by a family member or a close friend.
Williams said that this is just a first step. He will come back next year with an even stronger bill. “We are going to plant a flag that says you are not going to rape a child in Alabama
Rep. Coleman-Evans said that currently the victims end up being criminalized instead of the people that are trafficking them.
The Alabama House of Representatives has passed HB433, The Safe Harbor Act. This bill protects underage victims of human trafficking and increases penalties for those seeking to purchase sex. I would like to thank my colleagues for passing this bill 103-0.
Rep. Jack Williams from Vestavia is on Alabama’s Human Trafficking Task Force. Human trafficking, most of it trafficking women and children for sex, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in America and has become as large as the illegal arms trade globally.
The House passed HB433 103 to 0. 83 members of the House signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
The bill now goes to the Alabama Senate.