Kids, Not Criminals: The Continuous Fight for Freedom

Often, we find ourselves wondering- how do they get away with it? Everyday a young girl is arrested for prostitution, when she is simply under the manipulation of a pimp. She can be charged with prostitution when she, in reality, is forced to comply with any and all orders. Without compliance, girls are tortured, raped and abused. Pimps know how easy it is to get away with; they know they have a fairly slim chance of getting caught.

Arresting a young girl for prostitution blows my mind. To me, the whole moral of statutory rape laws relates to the common conception that minors are not yet fully capable to make the decision that they want to have sex with an older man. Most people would agree that even if the minor “consents,” they don’t really know the full capacity of what they are consenting to. So why do government officials think that young, 12-17 year old girls want to sell their selves for sex? It’s the same thing. There must be an outside source- something must be forcing these girls to do these acts. We need to focus our attention on child victims not child prostitution. We need to prosecute the criminals and recover these children. They are VICTIMS not prostitutes.

The News and Observer has picked up on this phenomenon. Last Saturday they published an article called, “States need to recognize that kids caught in human trafficking are not criminals.” North Carolina is one of the many states that have not issued a Safe Harbor Law. This law states that children under 18 cannot be prosecuted for prostitution. They must be treated as victims of abuse, must be helped in finding support, mental health care, education, job training, and more. This is a turn away from the focus of only prosecuting the criminals and not helping the child recover. The N&O is calling for every state to issue these laws and help victims of human trafficking recover.

Pam Strickland, the founder of Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now, wrote a response that was published today in the N&O. Pam states, “North Carolina does have a Human Trafficking Statute that clearly identifies minors involved in the commercial sex industry as victims of sexual servitude or sex trafficking. Unfortunately, the N.C. Prostitution Statute does not exclude minors from the definition of prostitution, so minors are being arrested for prostitution.” We are asking all residents to encourage their legislators to make North Carolina a Safe Harbor for minors who are victims of sex trafficking. You can make a difference.

News and Observer original article:

News and Observer via Pam Strickland:

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