In 2005, Minnesota enacted its first major human sex trafficking legislation. Importantly, this act established legal definitions around the issue of sex trafficking. It also called for rigorous data collection on sex trafficking. The act also established a distinction between prostitution and trafficking, allowing prostitutes to use coerced trafficking as a defense to criminal charges against them. This 2005 law was the cornerstone upon which all future sex trafficking laws were built.
Prior to 2000, prostitution laws in the United States and Minnesota focused primarily on the criminal acts of prostitutes. Beginning in 2000 and supported by a newly developed United Nations Trafficking Protocol, international and national trafficking laws began to address the issue of the traffickers themselves. Coalitions of governments, advocates and law enforcement personnel began to reframe the issue of sex trafficking as a human rights and public safety issue. The efforts of these and other groups at all levels of government have resulted in the growth of legal protections for women and children, as well as an increased ability to prosecute perpetrators. A key piece of federal legislation in the effort to reduce the incidence of human sex trafficking was the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) of 2000. In Minnesota, there has been a parallel effort to the national work being done on the issue of sex trafficking. From 2003-2010, more than 25 pieces of legislation addressing human trafficking were introduced in the Minnesota Legislature. The issues of human trafficking, prostitution, sex travel and international marriage brokers appear in legislation related to public safety, human rights, immigration and appropriations. There are two task forces dedicated to sharing information and coordinating efforts to combat human trafficking: the Gerald D. Vick Human Trafficking Task Force, established in 2005; and the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, established in 2006.
Human Trafficking in Minnesota: A Report to the Legislature. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Office of Justice Programs, Minnesota Statistical Analysis Center, 2006- . The report from the Human Trafficking Task Force was done annually in 2006, 2007, and 2010; the frequency was changed from annual to biennial in 2008.
Minnesota Legislative Session Summary 2005. St. Paul, MN: Office on the Economic Status of Women, 2005. See pages 26-27 for a summary of the law.
Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment for the State of Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: Advocates for Human Rights, 2008.