Lawmaker Drafts Bill To Strengthen Human Trafficking Laws In Oklahoma

Monday, April 16th 2012, 6:40 pm
By: News 9

It's been six months and still no one to answer for the murder of Carina Saunders. Police found the teenager's body in a duffle bag in Bethany on October 13. Her murder first revealed the statewide problem of human trafficking.

Related Story: 2/29/2012 M.E. Officially Rules On Carina Saunders' Death

Carina Saunders did not prostitute, instead, police believe human traffickers randomly chose her and used her murder to show other young girls in Oklahoma what might happen to them if they do not cooperate.

"I am here to tell you I have never met a woman who admitted that she is out here because she wanted to," Brian Bates said.

Brian Bates, a video activist targeting street prostitution, says he's witnessed several cases of human trafficking both before and after Saunders' murder. Most recently, the video vigilante helped police rescue a 15-year-old girl forced to prostitute.

3/5/2012 Related Story: OKC Video Vigilante Helps Take Teen Prostitute Off The Streets

"It's a perfect example that these traffickers they target girls that are very young, they are very impressionable," Bates said.

After several public cases of human trafficking in Oklahoma, Representative Sally Kern drafted a bill to strengthen the laws.

"Do you think most of them are doing it because they just want to do it? No, they are not. They are doing it because they have been coerced into doing it," Kern said.

Representative Kern explained the new legislation will redefine what is considered human trafficking, prohibit any child from giving consent to prostitute, and will also help prosecutors bring traffickers to justice.

"We need to do more things to protect the victims right now. There are too many loopholes right now that allow the perpetrators to get off," Kern said.

A law some say will keep Carina Saunders' death from being completely in vain.

"Hopefully going forward lots of people can be saved," Kern said.

Oklahoma currently has a "D" grade on a national scale for its human trafficking laws. Kern said this is just one of several bills that need to be passed.