How Do Louisiana Laws Protect a Child Against Trafficking?
Child trafficking is defined as any individual under 18 years of age who is unlawfully recruited, transferred, transported, received, or harbored by threats, coercion, and force, or by inducing fear for the purpose of exploitation.
In 2019, the number of human trafficking cases reported in the United States through the Human Trafficking Hotline was 11,500, out of which Louisiana reported 159 cases. It is believed that 1 in 5 human trafficking victims are children, who are exploited for child labor, begging, or child pornography. While these numbers do represent some of the most comprehensive available, it still does not present the total number of human trafficking cases that actually occurred. It only throws light on the number of cases that were reported through texts, phone calls, emails, online tips, and online chats that the hotline receives. Often, victims do not seek help due to several reasons, such as fear of their traffickers, fear of law enforcement, or even language barriers.
How do Louisiana Laws protect a minor against trafficking?
Louisiana Revised Statutes § 14:46.2(A)(1)(a), Human trafficking, states, among other things, that it is unlawful for any person to knowingly recruit, harbor, transport, provide, solicit, receive, isolate, entice, obtain, or maintain the use of another person through fraud, force, or coercion to provide services or labor. What when the trafficking involves a person under 18 years of age, the offender can be sentenced with a fine of not more than $25,000 and a prison term of not less than 5 nor more than 25 years with hard labor, out of which 5 years are to be without the benefit of suspension, probation, or even parole in the sentence.
Furthermore, LA Rev Stat § 14:46.3 makes trafficking of children for sexual purposes unlawful. According to this law:
● If a person knowingly harbors, recruits, sells, transports, provides, purchases, sells, receives, entices, obtains, isolates, or maintains the use of an individual under the age of 18 years to engage them in commercial sexual activity, or knowingly benefits from any such prohibited activity, they shall be punished by the law.
● A parent, legal guardian, or any individual having custody of a minor is prohibited from knowingly permitting or consenting to them entering into any activity that is prohibited by the provisions of this section.
● Anyone found to be knowingly facilitating, helping, abetting, conspiring, or aiding such activity shall be deemed punishable by law, whether or not they have been promised a thing of value in return for such activity.
● If it is found that a person has knowingly advertised any of the activities prohibited by this Section, they shall be prosecuted as per law.
● For a person to have knowingly sold or offered to sell travel services which facilitate or include any of the aforementioned activities, shall be duly prosecuted.
How do you recognize potential trafficking endangerment?
Last November 3rd Louisiana residents, Dina Guidry (56), Bobby Tisdale (38), and Everett West (41), were charged with human trafficking and rape in connection with the alleged abuse and sex trafficking of an 11-year old girl over the span of 4 years, according to Vernon Parish authorities. The most dreadful part of this is that this travesty went on for 4 years and two of the perpetrators were parents or guardians of the girl.
Human trafficking, especially trafficking of a child, is largely a hidden crime. And so, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has come up with several key indicators that can help you recognize potential endangerment, so that you can notify law enforcement as soon as possible. These indicators include:
● Having signs of physical abuse or appearing injured
● Appearing malnourished
● Responding in manners that seem scripted or rehearsed
● Avoiding eye contact and social interaction
● Avoiding law enforcement
● Lacking personal possessions
● Lacking personal ID documents
While there is no doubt that the state legislature has made some progress in raising awareness of and preventing human trafficking in Louisiana, there is still much to be done.
Helping victims rebuild their lives and putting the perpetrators behind the bars should always be a priority. In addition, the state should invest in more safe harbor schemes that extend to all survivors of trafficking, while the legislature should work more closely with institutions providing both psychological, as well as practical support to the victims.
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Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case. The first consultation can be in person or it can be virtual, on the Internet. Call Gaynell Williams today at (504) 302-2462 for a free consultation as soon as possible. We will work around your schedule. New Orleans lawyers Gaynell Williams LLC Attorney at Law have offices in Gretna and Downtown New Orleans by appointment only.
This information has been provided for informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed to constitute legal advice. Please consult your attorney in connection with any specific situation under Louisiana law and the applicable state or local laws that may affect your legal rights.
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