In my prior post, I wrote about the first civil lawsuit filed under Pennsylvania’s Human Trafficking Statute. In my next series of posts, I will break down the various aspects of this statute. I’ll begin with a discussion of who can bring a civil case under the statute.
In short, the statute allows any “victim of the sex trade” who has suffered damages to bring a claim. The term “victim” is defined broadly within the statute to include any individual who has:
- Been the object of a solicitation for prostitution;
- Been the object of a transaction in a sex act;
- Been intended or compelled to engage in an act of prostitution;
- Been intended or compelled to engage in a sex act;
- Been described or depicted in material that advertises an intent or compulsion to engage in sex acts; or,
- In the case of obscenity or child pornography, has appeared in or been described or depicted in the offending conduct or material.
It is certainly worth noting that this broad definition does not require that a “victim” be subjected to any force, coercion or abuse. This is a common theme of the statute that will be discussed throughout my upcoming series of posts. By leaving out such a requirement, the Pennsylvania legislature has provided a powerful tool allowing those who suffer damages from their experience in the sex trade to recover civil damages even if they willingly entered the trade. This legislation has the potential to open the door to a large wave of civil litigation in the fight against human trafficking.