Support for Stricter Sex Trafficking Penalties
June 12th, 2012
Legislation to update the state’s human trafficking policy, which would include increased protections for underage victims, received the backing of key members of the City Council today.
The committee on women’s issues unanimously passed a resolution calling on the state Legislature to pass the bill.
The resolution, created by 23 council members including all five committee members, strongly recommends that the Legislature pass the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act. If passed, the bill would amend a 2007 anti-trafficking law that the Council resolution says does not go far enough.
Councilmembers and advocacy groups support the bill in its current form, and are concerned that crucial pieces of it will be lost during negotiations to get it passed, committee chair Julissa Ferreras said.
“I hope that this will be a clear message to our colleagues in Albany,” Ferreras said.
The bill as it stands now would remove the need for prosecutors to prove that underage victims of trafficking were coerced into prostitution; elevate penalties for patronizing underage prostitutes to the level of statutory rape; and require that anyone under 18 arrested for a prostitution offense be tried in family court rather than criminal court. They also recommended upgrading sex trafficking to a class B violent felony from a non-violent one.
Nearly 4,000 minors are trafficked in New York City yearly, according to a 2001 study by End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT-USA) cited in the committee’s report.By Nina Goldman on June 12, 2012, 5:06 pm
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