Madam Speaker, she was a 14-year-old girl when she was forced into sex trafficking. Her name is Tina Frundt.
Like so many other trafficking victims, she was lured away from the safety of her home—a home nearby to this United States Capitol—and she was lured away by a man she thought she knew, and she trusted him.
He sweet-talked her and promised her a perfect life somewhere far away. He was a smooth-talking, slick con artist, tempting her with gifts and affection just to get her into the slave trade.
Her blissful, happy, and trusting world view all came crashing down when she found herself in a dark motel room surrounded by unfamiliar men in an unfamiliar city.
The trafficker forced her to have sex with the men for money. When she refused to have sex, the men just raped her. They stole her dignity, her self-respect, and her happy spirit.
Tina had become a slave on the marketplace of sex trafficking. These disgusting predators used the innocence of children to force them into the horrific life of sex trafficking. Most cannot imagine the depths of the suffering and abuse Tina suffered during the next year. She was forced to have sex with over 18 men a day. When she fell short of the mandatory $500 daily quota, she was beaten and beaten and humiliated. Her life consisted of cigarette burns, broken arms, broken fingers, and intimidation. Tina was arrested, treated as a delinquent, and was shuttled from one jailhouse to another.
Tina and other victims of human trafficking are victims of crime—they are not criminals; they are not juvenile prostitutes. Under the law, juveniles cannot commit the crime of prostitution. These victims do not belong in the criminal justice system. It is the vile traffickers and buyers who belong behind bars. In fact, we built jails and prisons for these deviants.
Stories like Tina’s are common in our Nation. Sex trafficking just does not happen in foreign countries. As cochair of the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus, along with my friend JIM COSTA and coauthor of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, along with CAROLYN MALONEY, it seems to me that, in America, human trafficking victims need to be identified, rescued, and not abandoned.
The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act does three things: it prosecutes the traffickers—the slave traders—and it locks them up. It prosecutes the buyers in that it punishes them like the traffickers; it rescues the victims and treats them as victims, not as criminals; finally, it establishes a fund that is paid by the traffickers and the buyers to help treat and restore victims with long-term care.
Let those crooks pay for the system they have created, and let them pay the rent on the courthouse. America cannot let young girls be bought and sold on the streets of our Nation. These predators are everywhere. They are not old men in trench coats but are young, good-looking guys who are well versed in their vile trade. Their next victim could be anybody’s daughter or wife.
No human being should ever have to endure what Tina and other trafficking victims like her have gone through. Tina was able to escape her slave trader, and she has become a survivor. Tina, along with many other survivors, has found a way to turn her darkness of hell into a light for good.
Recently, I was honored to tour Courtney’s House, which is a shelter right here in Washington, D.C., that Tina founded to rescue and support trafficking victims. She actively uses her personal experience to connect with those girls and give them support, nourishment, hope—things that they need. Since 2008, Courtney’s House has helped over 500 victims escape the bonds of sex slavery and become survivors.
Madam Speaker, justice demands such.
And that is just the way it is.