Coalition pushes lawmakers to fight sex trafficking

A politically savvy coalition of religious groups and nonprofits is pushing Georgia's Legislature to take more steps against sex trafficking.

About 600 members rallied support at the state Capitol on Wednesday for the creation of a commission that will draft a plan to help victims of sex trafficking and crack down on those who run the trade.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia said last year that sex trafficking is one of Atlanta’s most significant criminal problems.

The coalition formed about two years ago to help victims and lobby for better laws. Last year, Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, and others passed a law that made it easier to prosecute pimps and provide help for trafficked individuals.

Yet the coalition's work is far from over. A commission would create more avenues of assistance and look at refining laws to better help victims of sex trafficking.

Lisa Williams, who works with girls rescued in metro Atlanta from sex trafficking rings, spoke to a legislative subcommittee Wednesday, telling them she asked the girls what they wanted her to tell them.

"The girls said, ‘Let them know that we never dreamed we would go through this,' " Williams said while encouraging the representatives to pass House Resolution 1151, which calls for creating the commission.

The subcommittee voted to move HR 1151 to the Judiciary Committee and recommended that it pass.

Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, a freshman and the resolution's primary sponsor, said he became aware of the problem while watching a documentary.

"I said, if I get elected, I am going to do something about this," Brockway said.

Lindsey said the faith-based organizations and nonprofits promoting changes have moved out of pews and boardrooms and gotten involved in letting people know the scale of the problem.