Comments from the H.B. 200 Hearing
“We don’t want to make criminals out of victims,” said a judge.
My response, “We don’t want to make victims out of criminals.”
A Cultural Shift: Providing “Victim” Status to Prostitutes Under 18
Sex trafficking is a heinous crime whose victims should be rescued, protected and rehabilitated. But, tragically, some individuals choose prostitution and other illicit sex as professions. To classify professionals as victims is a miscarriage of justice that could encourage other youth to join them in unhealthy dangerous lifestyles.
In 2009 H.B. 582 was introduced to decriminalize prostitution and give victim status to anyone under age 18. It died in committee. In 2010, for persons under age 16, S.B. 304 would have decriminalized participation in prostitution and other sexually explicit acts. A substitute version of S.B. 304 listed prostitution and other sex crimes as “unruly child” behaviors, classifying youthful sex acts as no more serious than skipping school. S.B. 304 died in committee, also.
Both bills redefined all underage prostitutes as victims, including those that choose to prostitute themselves. Reasons for that: (a) Victims receive compensation from Georgia’s Crime Victims Compensation Board and the federal Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights. (b) Victim status is a step toward establishing prostitution and other sexually explicit conduct as respected professions.
H.B. 200, this year’s bill by Representative Ed Lindsey, increases penalties for pimping and trafficking, but for sex providers under 18 no criminal charge would be made for prostitution or other illicit sex acts. They would be classified as victims, eligible for victim compensation.
H.B. 200 passed the Non Civil Judiciary Committee February 24th amid assurances that to qualify as victims, prostitutes of all ages must prove “coercion or deception.” However, the bill does not require that of underage prostitutes. If sexually explicit conduct is, simply, “obtained” (without coercion or deception) from persons under age 18, they would be included in the “sexual servitude” category, making them eligible for victim status and victim compensation.
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