Moral Low Ground

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‘The Moral High Ground’: Landmark Anti-Sex Trafficking Law Goes into Effect in U.S. State of Georgia

A landmark piece of anti-sex trafficking legislation took effect in the US state of Georgia today, introducing harsh penalties for traffickers and those who pay to have sex with trafficked children and much-needed protections for trafficking victims.

“This new law will protect some of the most vulnerable members of our society and deter those bad actors who prey on them.” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens declared.

According to CBS News, the new law is “one of the nation’s toughest crackdowns on human trafficking.” Its enactment follows a four-year legislative battle in which Christian and other conservatives fought to stymie passage, arguing that the proposed changes would amount to a legalization of child prostitution.

But tough new penalties for traffickers and johns have assuaged conservative worries. Those convicted of using coercion to traffic minors face a 25-year minimum prison sentence. Those who pay for sex with minors face at least five to ten years behind bars.

Under the new law, prosecutors are prohibited from charging people with sex crimes if they can prove they were victims of sex trafficking. Coercion includes more than just physical force; now financial harm, destruction of immigration documents and drug use are all legally recognized as such. Trafficking victims now also legally qualify for state money for medical treatment if they cooperate with authorities in the prosecution of traffickers.

Advocacy groups hailed the new law. “This is America’s dirty little secret,” Ernie Allen of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children told CBS News. “These are crimes the public doesn’t see, that the public doesn’t want to believe exist; these are hidden victims. Historically, what law enforcement has tended to do is arrest the kid. We are trying to ensure that they focus on the pimp and the customer.”

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