Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, April 1, 2011
By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. In Georgia it started two years ago, this movement toward penalty-free prostitution for underage males and females who choose prostitution as a fling or a profession.
Penalty-free prostitution for anyone under 18 will be state law, when H.B. 200 goes into effect July 1st, unless the governor vetoes it. This movement began here in 2009 with Representative Willard’s H.B. 582 – a one-page bill that simply said, “A person who is 18 years of age or older commits the offense of prostitution when he or she performs or offers or consents to perform [certain] sexual act[s] … for money or other items of value.” Willard’s bill went to committee and died.
But Senator Unterman really, really wants Georgia to have penalty-free prostitution to eliminate charges against underage prostitutes and porn workers. So, she introduced S.B. 304 last year and added victim compensation as another goal. Her bill lowered the age to under 16 for penalty-free prostitution and referred to a prostitute under 16 as a sexually exploited “child” and listed prostitution in the “unruly child” Code section, suggesting that prostitution is no more serious than playing hooky from school. S.B. 304 had a committee hearing, but it died, too.
This year Representative Lindsey introduced the more cleverly written nine-page H.B. 200 to throw the book at sex traffickers, pimps and johns, while creating penalty-free prostitution and give victim compensation to anyone under 18 who works the streets or gets a job in pornography or performs masturbation for hire. H.B. 200 passed the House 168 to 1 and the Senate 54 to 0 and will soon create another class of welfare recipients under 20 years old.
I expected Georgia senators and representatives to distinguish between sex trafficking victims and teenagers that aren’t victims, but, actually, choose prostitution and pornography as a way to make money. But since they didn’t make a difference between those two groups of prostitutes (those trafficked and those that choose that lifestyle), beginning July 1st teenagers could flock to Georgia, earn money in penalty-free prostitution and get paid again and again with state and federal victim compensation funds. H.B. 200 sets up a major culture shift – in the wrong direction. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.