Des Moines, Iowa — The Iowa House and Senate have unanimously voted to give prosecutors another legal tool to crack down on human trafficking.
Representative Megan Jones of Sioux Rapids says it targets people who set up businesses like nail and hair salons, spas and massage parlors, with workers who are actually victims of human trafficking.
(As above) “This bill establishes a crime for knowingly letting your property be used for human trafficking,” Jones says. “…One really interesting part of this bill and I really appreciate this that the victims’ advocates brought this forward is that it provides restorative justice as a form of restitution.”
Victims of human trafficking will be able to avoid charges if they’re caught being forced to work in one of these businesses. Senator Brad Zaun of Johnston says the bill makes it harder to try to run an illicit spa or massage business using forced labor.
(As above) “We are blessed in the state of Iowa to have Interstate 80 and Interstate 35 which brings a lot of business to the state of Iowa,” Zaun says. “Unfortunately, it brings a lot of despicable human beings that are abusing other humans in regards to human trafficking. This bill really just clamps down on the landowners that know this is going on.”
The bill first passed the House on March 8th. The Senate gave it final approval this week. The bill also calls on the Iowa Public Safety Commissioner to establish a task force on human trafficking to understand the scope of the problem in Iowa and identify services for victims.