WASHINGTON, January 27 -

Mr. Speaker, the tragedy of human sex trafficking cannot be fully realized until one sees the pain of hopelessness in the victims' eyes.

On a recent trip to Honduras, I visited two shelters for sex trafficking victims: La Alianza and El Refugio Shelters. Some of these victims were as young as 12 years of age. They had been raped, drugged, abused, and exploited. These shelters are helping them to regain their lives, their dignity and, yes, their hope.

But don't be fooled into thinking that this vile crime of sex trafficking only happens somewhere else. It happens in the United States as well. The average age of girls trafficked in the United States is between 12 and 14 years of age.

Like Honduras, our country lacks shelters for these girls. There are about 5,000 shelters for animals throughout the country, according to the ASPCA, but there are only 226 beds available for domestic minor sex trafficking victims, according to Shared Hope.

This has got to change, Mr. Speaker. It is time for us to rescue the child victims of sex slavery and then put the traffickers and the child abusers in the jailhouse where they belong.

And that's just the way it is.