By Brittany Jones, Esq., policy manager for Family Policy Alliance
Sitting in the majority of coffeeshops across America, you will likely hear someone complain about politicians who can’t set aside party politics to get anything worthwhile done. However, our state ally, Minnesota Family Council, proved that it is possible to work across party lines last week. A Minnesota Family Council-backed bill to help the state more fully understand the link between human trafficking and pornography passed unanimously through both the state House and Senate!
Strong criminal laws against human trafficking are not enough. Too often these laws are not enforced, and they do little to stop the demand for trafficked persons.
We need to better understand what drives demand in order to prevent trafficking. Studies are beginning to show that, perhaps unsurprisingly, pornography conditions the brain to dehumanize others, priming users to become sex buyers.
Further, what many people don’t realize is that the subjects in pornographic works are being trafficked or were trafficked as children. However, without clear statistics on what is happening in this illicit trade, it is difficult to convince legislators to take action to end it.
Legislators in ten states have already recognized that pornography is a public health crisis. Minnesota decided to take the next step in the fight to end human trafficking by addressing what drives demand. The bill requires the state to gather data on the link between pornography and human trafficking. The legislation, S.B. 2554, requires that statistics about the use of pornography in human trafficking be added to the state’s already existing human trafficking report, and assesses an additional fine on those convicted of child pornography crimes and the dissemination and display of harmful materials to minors. Any money raised through this additional fine will be given to Minnesota’s Safe Harbor Program, which helps victims of human trafficking.
There was not a single vote against this bill throughout the legislative process. Meredith Campbell, Public Policy Director for Minnesota Family Council said of the bill signed by the Governor last Friday, “Preventing the commodification of humans is not a partisan issue. Dedicated Minnesotans from a variety of spheres, departments, and professions have been fighting against the sexual exploitation of women, girls, and boys in Minnesota for a long time. The leaders in this fight against sexual exploitation should be applauded today for their steadfast efforts to ensure that women and girls are treated with dignity and respect.”
When both sides come together incredible things can happen. Not everyone believes as we do—that every person is created with inherent dignity and worth, made in the image of God. But even unbelievers can see the need to protect human dignity, even if they don’t understand that that dignity comes from being God’s creation.
Minnesota’s new law is a huge step forward in protecting that inherent dignity and beginning to roll back the scourge of human trafficking and pornography.
If you live in Minnesota, please make sure you are connected with Minnesota Family Council to help with their efforts against human trafficking and pornography in your state.
If Minnesota is not your home state, we hope you’ll partner with Family Policy Alliance and our other state allies to advance legislation similar to Minnesota’s in your states.