Protect child victims of sex trafficking
Children are major targets of human traffickers due to their vulnerability and the high demand. Yet in New York, many traffickers evade conviction for their crimes due to New York’s requirement that prosecutors prove coercion in cases involving a child victim.
If you’re wondering why proof of coercion is necessary in trafficking cases where the victims are minors and who therefore cannot legally consent to sex, you’re not alone.
New York State Assembly Bill A6823-b would eliminate the proof of coercion requirement, thereby lifting the burden from sex trafficked children of having to provide painful details about their sexual exploitation and making it easier for prosecutors to bring strong cases against their exploiters.
NY STATE’S LAW PUTS THE ONUS ON CHILDREN
New York State’s current anti-trafficking law requires that prosecutors prove the child victim was coerced even though children are legally unable to consent to sex.
This means that prosecutors in New York cannot build successful cases against traffickers of children unless the child victim is willing and able to credibly testify against those who trafficked and abused them. This puts the onus on child victims to testify in court, to devastating effect. The trauma children suffer as a result of sex trafficking and their terror of retaliation from their traffickers often prevent child victims from being able to testify.
Unlike New York, the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act appropriately recognizes that children are legally unable to consent and does not require prosecutors prove coercion.
New York is one of only two states that still does.
Estimates suggest that each year at least 100,000 U.S.-born children become victims of sex trafficking.
(National Report on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking)
From 2000-2010, service providers in the NYC metropolitan area reported working with nearly 12,000 human trafficking survivors, many of whom were children.
WE NEED A NEW LAW
Currently, federal law and 48 states do not require that prosecutors prove coercion in sex trafficking cases when the victims are minors. New York State Assembly Bill A6823-b would lift the burden from sex trafficked children of having to provide painful and humiliating details about their sexual exploitation, make it easier for prosecutors to bring strong cases against their exploiters, and bring New York in line with rest of the country.
The bill also recognizes that traffickers sometimes induce young victims to assist them in exploiting other trafficked children. To protect young trafficking victims induced to exploit others, the bill creates an affirmative defense* for those ages 19 and younger who are themselves trafficked within the meaning of federal or state law.
*An affirmative defense to a civil lawsuit or criminal charge is a fact or set of facts other than those alleged by the plaintiff or prosecutor which, if proven by the defendant, defeats or mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct.
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