The organization is Shared Hope International. One of its programs is this study to make states aware of how their sex trafficking laws compare and to work toward getting tough national standards. SHI was founded by former member of Congress Linda Smith. She says actually Texas has some very tough laws for those who deal in trafficking in minors. However, there are some glaring weaknesses that lead to the overall “C”. One is the Texas penalty for men who shop for children for sex.
“In the law there is very little penalty. And, in fact, they would be treated the same if they were buying an adult or a child under the solicitation act.”
Smith says Texas’ trafficking act also has a flaw.
“The very trafficking act does not distinguish between adults and minors and in all cases you have to prove force. That pretty much means the child has to be hurt pretty bad, really.”
Child advocates say the very fact a child is involved in commercial sex should be grounds enough to charge adults with trafficking. Smith also says the owners of strip clubs get a slap on the wrist in Texas if they employ an underage girl.
Smith, other advocates and area law enforcement, gathered at Houston City hall this morning to call on lawmakers to make all of Texas’s child sex laws as tough as national laws.