This past weekend California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a whole slew of forward thinking legislation—from a ban on plastic bags, addressing the mounting issue of environmental degradation, to the Yes Means Yes law, regarding sexual assault, to seven, I repeat SEVEN new pieces of legislation furthering the state’s stance against human trafficking. These laws increase the rights of victims, the penalties of those hurting them, and the resources for preventing trafficking in the first place.
One law, SB 1165, allows for sexual abuse sex trafficking prevention education to be implemented in schools and requires that it be included in the Health Framework for Public Schools. Love Never Fails, a bay area- based anti trafficking organization, has already created a curriculum which they call “Love Don’t Hurt” centered around themes of abuse and are gearing up to include the new aspects provided for in this bill.
Another incredibly important bill, which acts as a deterrent against labor trafficking, is SB 477. It requires foreign labor contractors (the middle men between foreign laborers and their potential bosses) to register with the Labor Commissioner before hiring any day laborers or migrant workers, etc. They must provide the commissioner with certain information as well as a fee that would cover any transgressions of the rest of the bill. The contractor is also required to disclose certain information to the foreign laborer, regarding the laborer’s rights, the specifications of the work contract, information about the employer, and an itemized list of expenses. The contractor is prohibited from changing the contract without the laborer’s complete understanding and consent, charging the laborer any additional fees, especially prior to working, or charging the laborer housing fees above the comparable market price. If the contractor violates any of these provisions, he/she is liable to pay a fine and serve time in the county jail, as well as paying the laborers any damages and fees. As Senate Pro Tempe, the author of this bill (which is actually a revision of last years SB 517 which Governor Brown vetoed) noted, “We’ve heard many horror stories of foreign workers who obtain visas and are recruited by foreign labor contractors to work here, only to become victims of abusive working conditions. Those workers often find themselves in what amounts to indentured servitude as well, as they’re forced to pay-off excessive ‘recruitment’ fees. These tougher regulations will help protect these hardworking men and women from human trafficking and other abuses.” CAST LA points out that 14% of the nation’s temporary foreign workers reside in California, making up 130,000 undocumented workers. This law will protect their rights and ensure that they are not trafficked into an abusive system. As California hosts three of the top 13 US cities for Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego), it was imperative that some of the legislation revolve around this aspect of the crime. Both SB 1388 and AB 1791 increase the penalities for crimes committed against minors, including the solicitation of a minor prostitute. Furthermore, AB 1585 increases the rights of victims of human trafficking convicted of prostitution—allowing them to petition the court to eliminate their conviction by proving that it was the result trafficking situation. It is true that California is permeated with the horrors of human trafficking, in every industry, yet our legislature have begun to truly see combatting modern day slavery as a priority, and are committed to letting their votes count.
Here is the complete list of this week’s anti-trafficking legislation, as taken directly from Governor Jerry Brown’s website:
“SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today signed legislation to better protect victims of human trafficking and bills to support education, prevention and law enforcement efforts to fight trafficking.
The Governor signed the following bills today:
- AB 1585 by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas): Allows a victim of human trafficking who was convicted of solicitation or prostitution, but can prove that the conviction was the result of their status as a victim of human trafficking, to petition the court to set aside the conviction.
- AB 1610 by Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda): Permits conditional examination of a material witness or victim when a defendant has been charged with human trafficking and there is evidence the witness has been dissuaded from testifying at trial.
- AB 1791 by Assemblymember Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego): Strengthens penalties for human trafficking crimes involving minors.
- SB 477 by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento): Requires foreign labor contractors to register with the Labor Commissioner and penalizes intimidation, discrimination and other violations to prevent the exploitation of foreign workers.
- SB 955 by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles): Adds human trafficking to the offenses for which interception of electronic communications may be ordered by a court.
- SB 1165 by Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles): Permits sex trafficking prevention education in school districts and ensures it will be considered for inclusion in the Health Framework for California Public Schools.
- SB 1388 by Senator Ted W. Lieu (D-Torrance): Increases fines for the solicitation of an act of prostitution involving a minor.
For full text of the bills, visit: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov”
To read more about the passing of these bills, read these articles:
CBS Sacramento: Gov. Brown Signs Bills Upgrading Human Trafficking Laws