SANCTUARY FOR FAMILIES APPLAUDS GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO FOR ENACTING THE END CHILD SEX TRAFFICKING ACT
New law relieves prosecutors of the burden of having to prove that a child sex trafficking victim was coerced into having sex
(New York – August 15, 2018) – Sanctuary for Families (Sanctuary), New York State’s largest dedicated service provider and advocate for victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence, today applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo for signing into law the “End Child Sex Trafficking Act” – a measure that relieves prosecutors of the burden of having to prove that a child was coerced into prostitution in order to in order to convict that child’s exploiter of sex trafficking.
Dorchen Leidholdt, Director of Sanctuary’s Center for Battered Women’s Legal Services, stated,
“This law is the result of the powerful advocacy of a diverse coalition of survivors, their families, advocates, and faith-based leaders, determined to protect our most marginalized and brutalized children and hold their exploiters accountable.”
Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families said,
“This year alone, hundreds of thousands of children in the United States will be subjected to or at risk of sex trafficking. With the enactment of the End Child Sex Trafficking Act, New York has taken a major step forward to eradicate this scourge. Prosecutors can now build strong cases against those who traffic children without forcing the children to testify and relive the devastating trauma. Sanctuary for Families applauds Governor Cuomo’s decision to sign this bill into law. We are also deeply grateful to the bill sponsors, Assembly Member Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza, for their unrelenting commitment to protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Judge Kluger also commended the team at Sanctuary for Families for their tireless advocacy on this issue.
Prior to enactment of this measure, prosecutors in New York could not build successful cases against traffickers of children unless the child victim was willing and able to testify. The trauma children suffer as a result of sex trafficking and their terror of retaliation from their traffickers often prevented child victims from testifying.
The End Child Sex Trafficking Law creates an affirmative defense for all sex trafficking victims. New York now aligns with federal law and the other 49 states, which do not require that prosecutors prove coercion in sex trafficking cases when the victims are minors.
Children are major targets of human traffickers, who pursue them because they are vulnerable and because sex buyers demand children. Estimates suggest that each year at least 100,000 U.S.-born children become victims of sex trafficking. From 2000-2010, service providers in the New York City metropolitan area reported working with nearly 12,000 human trafficking survivors, many of whom were children.