Politics

New Measures Would Ban Criminal Charges Against Young Sex Workers, and Get Them Treatment As Victims

State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) has pre-filed two measures for the upcoming session aimed at offering more protection to young people who are trafficked for sex.
State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) has pre-filed two measures for the upcoming session aimed at offering more protection to young people who are trafficked for sex.
Credit RENEE UNTERMAN

(Note:  This story is part of WABE’s continuing coverage of the fight against human trafficking in Georgia.)

In 2011 state lawmakers passed, and Governor Nathan Deal signed, a law that toughened punishments for adults engaged in trafficking children for sex.  But the new law still allowed prosecutors to file charges against young sex workers for crimes like prostitution, instead of treating them as victims – although police and prosecutors could also opt not to file charges.  Now, one of those who pushed for the 2011 bill is back with a new package, aimed at offering more protection to young people who are trafficked for sex.

On Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014, State Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) pre-filed two measures for the upcoming session of the General Assembly.  The bill – called the “Safe Harbor Act” – and the constitutional amendment would automatically classify sex workers under 18 as victims; shielding them from criminal charges, and providing treatment for them.  The bill also lengthens the statute of limitations for charges to be filed against pimps and customers, and allows more opportunity to seize their assets.  Sen. Unterman spoke with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer about the two proposed measures.

(Note:  At this writing, the texts of the bill and proposed constitutional amendment were not yet available to link on this page.  Links will be provided as soon as they are available.  The proposals also follow the new Federal law against child sex trafficking, which President Obama signed earlier this year.)

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