California has taken concrete and logical steps to actually help child victims of human trafficking. For some reason, this is angering conservatives who seem to think that if the victims aren't jailed, liberals are trying to make pedophilia more acceptable. They are actually livid that children won't be arrested, charged, and forced to live with a lifetime of checking "yes" for "have you ever been convicted of a crime?" on job applications.
SB-1322 is the new law in question, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 26, 2016. It decriminalizes underage sex workers so they won't be forced into the criminal justice system.
Existing law makes it a crime to solicit or engage in any act of prostitution. Existing law makes it a crime to loiter in any public place with the intent to commit prostitution.
This bill would make the above provisions inapplicable to a child under 18 years of age who is alleged to have engaged in conduct that would, if committed by an adult, violate the above provisions. The bill would authorize the minor to be taken into temporary custody under limited circumstances.
Child sex workers are overwhelmingly slaves. They are victims of human trafficking who the right wing seem to believe should have to deal with a lifetime of arrest and criminal records because they were forced into hell by evil adults. The reasoning behind this is not entirely clear.
Right-wing headlines from angry hacks in rags like ThreePercenterNation.com and DownTrend.com scream, "California Legalizes Child Prostitution, Kids Can Now Be Sex Workers," and "Liberals At Work: California Just Legalized Child Prostitution." The disingenuous and downright disgusting implications being that not only is the law legalizing child sex, but it is also protecting pedophiles and encouraging minors to become sex workers.
Decriminalization is not Legalization
"Governor Moonbeam has just decriminalized prostitution for minors in California.
He claims that it is meant to make life after human trafficking easier for those forced into it. But who says that the consequences of this move won’t make pedophilia more acceptable? Our government officials have forgotten that their actions will cause dire consequences for others. Or maybe they do know that and they just don’t care."
Decriminalizing sex work for trafficked minors does not decriminalize human trafficking, nor pedophilia, nor soliciting a sex worker. It is still illegal to purchase sex from minors.
What it means is that the Johns (those who buy sex from minors) and the Pimps (those who traffic the minors) can be arrested for a crime and go to jail. However, because the children forced into sex work are victims, they get detained and can go on to get help instead of jail and a criminal record.
Criminal Prosecution of Victims Protects Pedophiles
More disturbingly, it means that pedophiles that have paid to rape a minor know their victim has to try to protect them from law enforcement or also be charged with a crime. It is always a crime to have sex with a minor, period, but when the minor is charged like an accomplice that aids only one person: the pedophile.
Conservatives seem to think that if minors aren't punished for being forced into sexual slavery then somehow the pedophiles win. But we don't charge children with a crime when they are the victims of abuse by their neighbor or teacher. So why would we charge them with a crime when they are raped repeatedly for someone else's profit?
The last charge being levied by right wingers is even more distressing. Somehow, they think that this decriminalization means that minor children are being encouraged to become sex workers on their own. Yes, really.
"From what I understand the purpose of this law is to remove the stigma of prostitution related convictions for minors who were forced into the sex trade. It may actually achieve that, but it certainly doesn’t deter kids from getting into the game. Decriminalizing prostitution for minors sends a very bad message that some kids are going to pick up on.
Interestingly enough, Gov. Brown vetoed another bill that would provide aide to victims of sex trade human trafficking. Basically he just said “F*ck you kids, if you want money get out on the street and earn it yourselves.
Is this what they mean when they talk about “progressive” leadership? I guess technically this law creates jobs and will probably generate more tourism for the state. Still, I feel like there is a less morally reprehensible way to do this."
This ignores the fact that when it comes to the sex trade, there are two main ways children become involved: human trafficking and survival sex. Desperation is the only reason that children would get into sex work on their own. Homeless, adrift and alone, hungry, desperate.
According to the US Department of Justice:
"Survival sex" occurs when a child engages in sex acts in order to obtain money, food, shelter, clothing, or other items needed in order to survive. In these situations, the transaction typically only involves the child and the customer; children engaged in survival sex are usually not controlled or directed by pimps, madams, or other traffickers. Any individual who pays for sex with a child, whether the child is controlled by a pimp or is engaged in survival sex, can be prosecuted.
That means that the kids that get into sex work "on their own" are doing it because if they don't, they will die. No amount of criminalizing will deter a person from doing what they must to survive.
This is victim-blaming, pure and simple. This is like saying: "because we don't charge minors who were raped by adults for promoting sex with a minor, children will seduce pedophiles." It is that stupid.
It should never be a crime to be a victim. To be distressed that children are no longer treated like criminals for being trafficked, or just surviving, shows a deep misunderstanding of the issues, a complete lack of compassion and humanity or, worse, a calculated attempt to deceive others to score cheap political points.
There's something fundamentally broken in America's conservative movement but thank goodness they have no power in California. At least some children will get the help they need instead of the punishment the right wing so desperately craves
Image via dosomething.org