Book's Sex Trafficking Bill Divides Survivors, Advocates

Feb 19, 2019

Sen. Lauren Book discusses her annual "Walk in My Shoes" event to highlight sexual abuse and human trafficking. 3/5/18
Credit Ryan Dailey / WFSUNews

Sex trafficking survivors and their advocates are divided on a measure aimed at identifying victims. Lynn Hatter reports the proposal requires hotel staff and law enforcement officers undergo training to recognize trafficking and for hotel workers to report potential cases.

Savannah Parvu says Democratic Senator Lauren Book’s bill would be a life saver.

“I feel like if we had a bill like this when I was trafficked in Central Florida beginning at 12 years old, I wouldn’t have been trafficked as long as I was. I wouldn’t have a lot of the trauma I’ve had, a lot of the physical problems—I’ve had to have a hysterectomy and I’ll never be able to have kids because of what was done to me," she testified to members of the Senate's Criminal Justice Committee.

But Christine Hanavan, with the Sex Worker Outreach Project, worries about a proposed Florida Department of Law Enforcement registry. It would list people who are guilty of soliciting or entice others for sex. She says people on it could be victims themselves and claims language in another part the bill requiring hotel workers report potential trafficking victims could do more harm than good.

“A victim could be placed in greater danger by making a report against their will. Such as their trafficker retaliating against them. So that report should only be made with their consent or by the victim themselves.”

A staff analysis of the proposal suggests the registry language may be unconstitutional.  

Senator Book sponsored but later pulled a similar measure last year that would have allowed human trafficking victims to sue hotels. She pulled it after it came under fire from the hotel industry.