HARRISBURG – The House of Representatives has passed Rep. Natalie Mihalek’s (R-Allegheny/Washington) bill to protect victims of human trafficking. House Bill 246
amends the human trafficking statute to prohibit defendants from introducing evidence of a human trafficking victim’s past sexual victimization and allegations of past sexual victimization.
“A victim is a victim no matter what has happened to them in the past,” said Mihalek. “Tens of millions of people worldwide are enslaved in forced labor and there are more and more victims each year. Pennsylvania is ranked in the top 10 states for human trafficking. That is unacceptable. When a human trafficking victim comes forward, we must do everything we can to protect them and ensure that our justice system does not further victimize them. That’s why I created this bill. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to face your attacker in court. The victims are NOT on trial and they should never be treated as if they are.”
This legislation ensures that victims of human trafficking are afforded the same protections as victims of other sexual offenses. When evidence against the victim is brought up, it only discourages them from testifying and ensures the trafficker gets away with their wrong doings. This bill prohibits the defense from bringing up a past that is not relevant to the case.
“This is a first step in combating this horrific act of slavery,” Mihalek continued. “Not only must we get traffickers off the streets, but we must work to provide victims with the resources they need to leave the life of complete dependency on their trafficker.”
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. It is one in a package of eight bills being advanced by the House this week to combat this growing crime.
Representative Natalie Mihalek
40th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Michelle Swab