Governor Deals signs Human Trafficking Bill into Law

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I never thought much about sex trafficking in the U.S. until I heard about the bill to help combat human trafficking in Georgia. Rep. Ed Lindsey (R-Atlanta, District 54) sponsored the bill, HB 200, with tremendous support from advocates against the commercial and sexual exploitation of children.

HB 200, called the Human Trafficking Bill, seeks to help victims of human trafficking. Human trafficking includes exploitation for labor and sexual purposes. HB 200 prohibits traffickers/criminals from using ignorance of a victim’s age or previous sexual history as a defense and raises penalties for traffickers to from a minimum of 25 years, life imprisonment, and/or a $100,000 dollar fine.  This bill blocks charges for anyone forced to commit sex crimes, including prostitution, against his or her will. Further more, victims of human trafficking may be eligible for funds from the Georgia Crime Victims Compensation Board if they have suffered serious physical, mental, or emotional trauma or financial hardship as a result of their involvement in trafficking.

Initially I thought-why do we need a human trafficking bill in Georgia? Once I researched the issue, I discovered the disturbing facts surrounding child sex trafficking in Georgia, especially in the metro Atlanta area.

The FBI named Atlanta one of 14 cities that has high incidence of child prostitution. A study conducted by the Schapiro Group researched the demand surrounding the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Georgia and the results were startling:

  • about 300 girls are exploited throughout Georgia every day.
  • 8,000 men pay for sex with adolescent females each year in Georgia, while nearly 10,000 men purchase sex with adolescent females multiples times a year.  

While there is controversy about the design of this study, the fact remains that children are being trafficked throughout Georgia for sexual purposes. Perhaps the controversy surrounding this study will create opportunities for more research studies into the underworld of child sex trafficking; which can help law enforcement create better solutions for catching sexual  predators before they have chance to ruin a child’s life.

HB 200 is a step in the right direction. I strongly believe that the victims of sex trafficking should not face criminal charges. Many youth are kidnapped, coerced, or deceived into the lurid world of sexual exploitation—what makes them deserve a criminal record? Not pressing charges against the victims of sexual exploitation is not legalizing prostitution, but rather is giving a voice and power to a growing population of exploited youth to come forward and tell their story—saving more children from a similar fate and sending more sex traffickers to jail.

Thank you Governor Deal for signing HB 200 into law on May 3, 2011.  This is a victory for all victims of sex trafficking and their advocates.  

Read the new law on Human Trafficking. 

For more information of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Georgia visit.