New Jersey's 26th Legislative District

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Senator Joe Pennacchio

Pennacchio Highlights Dangers of Sex Tourism in Dominican Republic

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Introduces New Legislation Urging NJ Residents Not to Travel to DR

Due to an increase in human trafficking violations in the Dominican Republic (DR,) Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) has introduced a Senate Resolution that would urge New Jersey residents to immediately cease travel to the Dominican Republic, unless the country takes action to combat the epidemic of sex tourism within the nation’s borders.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio has introduced a resolution that would urge NJ residents to cease travel to the Dominican Republic, unless the country takes action to combat the epidemic of sex tourism within the nation’s borders. (SenateNJ.com)

“Human trafficking is modern-day enslavement in which innocent people, particularly young children, are abducted, sold, and forced into the heartbreaking sex-trade and forced labor industry,” Pennacchio said. “The Dominican Republic’s beautiful beaches and mountains cannot cover-up the fact that it’s also the world’s most dangerous tourist destination for at-risk children. Ending human trafficking is not a partisan issue. This is about human rights.”

Six million tourists visit the Dominican Republic (DR) every year. The DR is frequently cited as a world capital for sex tourism. Victims of the sex-trade industry are frequently found on street corners, beaches, parks, and other popular tourist destinations throughout the Dominican Republic.

One in four of these women were forced into sexual exploitation before their 18th birthday, according to the International Justice Mission.

Sen. Joe Pennacchio’s new resolution, SR-91, aims to expose the Dominican Republic’s failure to implement protocols that would identify and assist human trafficking victims, raise awareness, and encourage the people of New Jersey to take a stand by refusing to travel to the nation. The resolution was officially introduced in the State Senate on July 1, 2018.

Over the past five years, the Dominican Republic has grown into a global source for women and children who are forced into sex trafficking; as well as young men who are sold into forced labor. In 2017, children represented more than 50 percent of the human trafficking population in the Dominican Republic.

Every year, more than a million children are exploited in the global sex-trade industry. This commercial sex-tourism market includes tourists from the United States and other countries, who travel to destinations commonly known for legal prostitution, such as the Dominican Republic. In addition to tourist destinations, the international sex-trade is fueled by weak law enforcement and dark corners of the internet.

Senator Pennacchio has sponsored a number of bills to protect children from violence.

In addition to SR-91, Senator Pennacchio also co-sponsors the “Human Trafficking and Child Exploitation Prevention Act,” which would require manufactures and sellers of internet-connected devices to block websites known to facilitate human trafficking. The bill would establish a reporting website or call center, this tool would allow consumers to report unblocked obscene material.

“We cannot in good faith encourage our residents to visit the Dominican Republic,” Pennacchio added. “The DR has repeatedly failed to fully comply with the minimum global standards for eliminating human trafficking. I strongly believe that this legislation could be a critical step in our fight to end the cycle of sex tourism. 20 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. We must stand up and fight on their behalf in any way we can. I call on my colleagues in the Legislature to join me in this bold effort to stop these atrocities, once and for all.”

A copy of Senator Pennacchio’s Senate Resolution can be found here.

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