May 14, 2018

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Survivors of Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan announced this week that she is cosponsoring two bipartisan bills to support survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. 

To help protect survivors of sexual assault and ensure that they can seek justice for the crimes committed against them, Senator Hassan cosponsored the bipartisan reauthorization of the Debbie Smith Crime Victims Protection Act, which would help get much-needed resources get to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of crime scenes, including untested rape kits. The bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Dean Heller (R-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“Domestic and sexual violence affects every one of our communities in New Hampshire and across the country, and ensuring that survivors of these horrific crimes can seek justice is critical to their recovery,” Senator Hassan said. “The Debbie Smith Act is vital to those efforts, helping to get the resources necessary to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analysis of crime scenes, including untested rape kits. As the Senate Judiciary Committee continues work on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it’s critical to include this important bipartisan measure so that we can help ensure that survivors of such crimes can seek the justice they rightfully deserve.”

Senator Hassan also cosponsored the bipartisan Protecting Rights of Those Exploited by Coercive Trafficking (PROTECT) Act of 2018which would strengthen protections for survivors of human trafficking by amending existing human trafficking law to specify that the use of drugs or illegal substances to cause a person to engage in a commercial sex act or forced labor constitutes a form of coercion. Under the bill, both traffickers and facilitators of human traffickers would be held accountable for causing or furthering an individual’s addiction for the purpose of forced labor and sex trafficking. The measure was introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), John Cornyn (R-TX), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“As our country continues to grapple with the devastating fentanyl, heroin, and opioid epidemic, it is critical that we have protections in place to protect victims of human trafficking who may be taken advantage of because of their substance use disorder and coerced to use drugs or forced into prostitution or other illegal acts,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan PROTECT Act would help address this issue by holding both traffickers and facilitators of human trafficking accountable for causing or furthering an individual’s substance use disorder while also helping to ensure that survivors of human trafficking are not charged for incidents that occurred as a result of being trafficked.”

Senator Hassan has long fought to protect survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking. As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan signed legislation establishing the crime of domestic violence in New Hampshire. Then-Governor Hassan also signed additional bipartisan bills into law to strengthen protections for human trafficking victims and increase penalties for perpetrators. In the Senate, Senator Hassan cosponsored the bipartisan Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, legislation that would help human trafficking victims by clearing any federal convictions for nonviolent crimes from criminal records, and the bipartisan Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017?, which has been signed into law, and helps ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and that websites such as Backpage.com can be held liable and brought to justice. Senator Hassan also joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in reintroducing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which would reform the way colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault that occur on their campuses.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is currently in the process of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

 

###