New law addresses sex trafficking in Virginia

WASHINGTON — Sex trafficking is a crime that happens under the radar, but it’s happening in our own backyard, says Virginia Del. Tim Hugo, R-Fairfax.

“You think that sex trafficking only happens overseas,” Hugo says. “It’s happening right here in Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria — some of the most affluent jurisdictions in America.”

Hugo says Northern Virginia is a hot spot for sex trafficking.

“Robinson High School a year or so ago, affluent neighborhoods, affluent kids, it was happening there.”

Hugo sponsored a bill that will become law on July 1, making soliciting a minor for sex a felony. His colleague Del. Barbara Comstock, R-Mclean, co-sponsored the legislation, which is intended to make it harder for people to be involved in the sex trafficking trade.

The two hosted a town hall meeting at the Mclean Community Center on Friday morning that included experts on sex trafficking. The goal was to begin raising awareness in the community.

U.S. Congressman Frank Wolf, who attended the meeting, says this is just the beginning of the battle, “I don’t see this as a problem going away anytime soon.” Wolf says most people are stunned to learn that sex trafficking is a big problem in our area.

Among the speakers at Friday’s town hall were Detective Bill Woolf with Fairfax County Police and Courtney Gaskins with Youth for Tomorrow.

Human trafficking is modern day slavery with 27 million men, women and children being held captive across the world, experts say.

Congressman Wolf says human trafficking takes many forms, from child sex tourism in Thailand to domestic servitude in D.C. He says it’s happening in America, and to American children and teens.

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