Anyone who doubts that the current anti-human trafficking push is anything more than a veiled crackdown on prostitution need only steal a glance at this spectacularly bad bill, signed into law yesterday. Or one might take a moment to ponder yesterday's gathering of anti-trafficking enthusiasts -- which includes groups I've never known to take any kind of stand on human rights issues, but are sure to fire off a few press releases every time someone, somewhere is having sex for any purpose other than producing a gurgling mini-conservative.

The new and improved version of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act authorizes grants for law enforcement agencies that wish to, among other things "establish, develop, expand, or strengthen programs...to investigate and prosecute persons who engage in the purchase of commercial sex acts" and/or "to educate persons charged with, or convicted of, purchasing or attempting to purchase commercial sex acts." In other words, this initiative, which began as an ill-advised attempt to stop trafficking from places like Cambodia, is now funding grants to "educate" the johns next door.

Nobody knows the scope of the problem this bill purports to fight, but a serious attempt to root out trafficking might start with decriminalization of the sex trade. Independent hookers are in contact with clients who will know where to look for abuses; sex workers also have a financial incentive to report trafficking rings that push down prices. I look forward to the day when the Concerned Women for America are concerned enough to ask for COYOTE's help.