New SD bill protects victims of child sex trafficking
Gov. Dennis Daugaard has signed a bill meant to protect child victims of sex trafficking from being charged or prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit.
SB 67 calls for any criminal or delinquency records of victims to be expunged.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 18 children victimized in South Dakota in the last 5 years. The new law aims to help victims when they go out looking for jobs and housing.
Rep. Lynne DiSanto, R-S.D., says the bill is a milestone and shows progress in the way South Dakota views human trafficking.
“Ten years ago, these girls and guys were looked at as the bad guys,” DiSanto says. “And I think this shows a shift in our cultural psyche."
DiSanto also says the new law is no longer viewed as a women’s issue, but rather an issue that affects the entire state.
"I think it’s really important to remember that the South Dakota Legislature is a very male-dominated legislature,” DiSanto says. “I think it’s great that the men here are willing to have these discussions about these issues. Because sometimes these can be perceived as women’s issues, but they’re not women’s issues. They’re people issues.”
There were over 1,400 cases of human trafficking across the nation in 2017.