I realize there are only 6 days until the Primary Elections (and yes I’m working hard to win my race), but this article hits on an issue I’m very passionate about.
Regular readers of Peach Pundit will remember the fight that erupted during this year’s legislative session over the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (see here, here, and here). A new ruling by the Texas Supreme Court may turn the tide in favor of Senator Unterman’s position that children under the age of 16, who cannot under Georgia law consent to sex, should be treated as victims of sex trafficking and receive help, not treated as criminals.
On June 18, the Texas Supreme Court might have changed the landscape, when it decided In the Matter of B.W., a case in which a 13-year-old was charged with prostitution. She had been living with her 32-year old “boyfriend” and was arrested for prostitution by an undercover officer. Noting the “special vulnerability of children,” the court held that a child under the legal age of consent cannot be deemed criminally liable for the crime of prostitution.
The opinion is worth reading, as it methodically answers every question raised by skeptics. Yes, there are many. This year, in Georgia, several concerned legislators attempted to fix a similar flaw in the state’s law, to ensure sexually exploited children are not further victimized by being arrested and charged with a crime. The bill died in committee.
Opponents of “safe harbor” laws argue that they will create a loophole for pimps to exploit. The Texas court has answered that charge: Treating sexually exploited children as crime victims does not change the fact that pimps and johns can be charged with sexual exploitation of a minor. Also, as the court explains, if the concern is being able to help these children, then the juvenile justice system is not our only option.