SCARSDALE, N.Y. – Assembly member Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), with the support of Sanctuary for Families, on Thursday announced her support for legislation protecting the victims of human trafficking.
Several organizations – including the State Anti-Trafficking Coalition and The Junior League in Scarsdale – have formed a coalition to support the legislation to push for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) sponsored by Paulin and state Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Great Kills).
The YWCA Orange County is set to host the coalition’s first meeting next week, where representatives from the 10 organizations will learn how trafficking is affecting the local community, effective ways to take action and to develop a plan for the 2013 legislative session.
Paulin said she was pleased to introduce the bill, which acknowledges that buying children for sex is child abuse, and increases the penalties for traffickers.
“Exploiting human beings for sex has to be one of the most heinous crimes in our modern day society,” she said. “This gives law enforcement increased tools to put [traffickers] in jail. By ensuring access to social services, it also helps the victims break the vicious cycle of dependency and humiliation.”
There are several provisions in the TVPJA. It ensures that those who buy sex from children face the same penalties as statutory rapists. Prosecutors will no longer have to prove coercion in cases against children sex traffickers and it enables victims to defend themselves when they are charged with prostitution.
The TVPJA recognizes sex trafficking as a violent felony, ensuring traffickers face prison time. It also gives prosecutors the tools needed to build stronger cases against those who own and manage prostitution businesses, or are pimping children under 18 years old.
“Our bill is a long-awaited measure to help protect those people in the state who are particularly vulnerable,” Lanza said. “We must pass the TVPJA to end the re-victimization of trafficked people by our justice system and hold those who exploit them accountable.”