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The Georgia Senate Judiciary Committee has received a new version of S.B. No. 304 for consideration. However, just like the original version of the bill, prostitution for minors will still be decriminalized. Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Georgia continues to oppose any legislation that will decriminalize prostitution, and we urge Georgia legislators to reject the bill with dispatch.

CWA of Georgia stands in opposition to the substitute language of S.B. 304 for the following reasons:

The new language of the bill adds another definition to “unruly” children; it now includes those who are sexually exploited. In all other examples of an “unruly” child in this section of the Georgia code, the child performs the action, such as running away, skipping school or being disobedient. In S.B. 304’s new version, a child who is sexually exploited by another person is now included in this section. Defining them as “unruly” makes it sound as if they are complicit in their exploitation. The new language removes all discretion from the judge on how to handle cases involving “unruly” children who are victims of sexual exploitation. What happens to juveniles that have previously committed a prostitution offense? What happens to a juvenile that is put into rehabilitation services and does not complete the program? Pimps can use this proposed bill language as a recruiting tool by telling the kids prostitution is okay, it’s not a crime for them. When the children are deemed “unruly” by being victims of sexual exploitation, must they tell the name of their exploiter to the judge? If not, how will this end exploitation if the predators are not identified? The new language provides no requirement for training law enforcement on how to treat sexually exploited children as victims. If law enforcement officers are not trained, how will this bill change their mindset? How will this bill increase the number of pimps and johns arrested? The new language provides for a dispensation of victim compensation. This begs the question as to who will pay for it. If the children are not required to name their exploiters, how will the exploitation end? We are concerned that fraud could become rampant if victims are not getting the funds from those who exploited them. If pimps and traffickers are not caught and made to pay restitution to their victims, the possibility arises that pimps will send children through the system established by S.B. 304 to be deemed victims and able to receive victim funds from the state, which could go back to the pimps. Having victims seek restitution from their exploiters hits pimps and traffickers where it hurts, in their profit margin. It also empowers the victims because they have gotten something back from their exploiters.

CWA of Georgia continues to applaud the efforts of concerned Georgians who are working to end the victimization of children in commercial sexual exploitation. However, we advocate using all existing laws as legal tools to identify and remove victims from harm and to fully prosecute the pimps and panderers who abuse them. We recognize that demand for younger and younger girls is what drives prostitution and trafficking. Decriminalizing prostitution for minors does not reduce demand for commercial sex with minors. In fact, it may increase demand because the pimps and traffickers would have an extra layer of protection between them and law enforcement.

Click on the following links for additional resources that explain why decriminalization of prositution is NOT the answer:

The Dangerous Linkage of Naetand Good Intentions Protection of Victims from Pimps and Johns-By All Legal Means. Report by Citizens Against Trafficking. Talking points on opposing decriminalizing prostitution of minors. Alternatives and resources to decriminalizing prostitution.