New CA Law Seeks to Right a Wrong for Young Victims of Sex Trafficking
Monday, January 2, 2017
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – This week, a new state law is in effect aimed at protecting children who are victims of sexual abuse.
Law enforcement officers in California no longer can arrest youth suspects for prostitution.
Maheen Kaleem, a staff attorney with Rights4Girls, which advocated for the law, says minors inherently don't have the same legal powers as adults, so they can't consent to prostitution, and that pimps use threats of arrest as a way to keep minors from breaking free.
"Incarceration of victims really gets in the way of getting these children on the path to healing that they need, because exploiters are telling children, 'If you go to law enforcement, if you seek help, all they will do is arrest you,'" Kaleem states.
Of just over 1,000 human trafficking cases reported in California this year, about 1 in 4 involved a child.
Kaleem says the new law shifts guilt away from these young people, and toward those who are traffickers or customers of the sex trade. Fifteen other states have also passed like-minded laws.
The problem involves many demographic pockets of children and is often connected to the international drug trade, Kaleem says.
She explains it isn't that agencies or law enforcement see these children as criminals, but that options have been limited when faced with these cases.
"A lot of it was that they didn't feel like they had an alternative,” Kaleem points out. “And if it's a choice between leaving that child on the street and arresting that child, they were going to arrest the child, because at least then, they knew where the child was. The family court could get involved.
“Now that this protocol, and protocols like it, exist in other counties, it was very clear that there was another alternative."
But that better alternative is not without complications. Kaleem says the majority of the cases she sees come from the child welfare system, where caseworkers are now being asked to learn these new protocols.
get more stories like this via email
The Nevada primary election is June 14, and early voting starts tomorrow and runs through June 10. Mail balloting is now permanent, so every active …
Democrats in the Florida Legislature are reviving calls for stricter gun-control laws, following the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Florida's …
This week, in honor of World Otter Day, conservation groups are looking to raise awareness about efforts to restore sea otters along more areas of …
Health and Wellness
With the unofficial start to summer, pools around Ohio are opening this Memorial Day weekend, and when it comes to swim time, experts encourage …
Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of water recreation season, and before putting on a swimsuit, Iowa environmental experts say being mindful …
As the nation processes the horrific shooting in Uvalde, where 19 children and two teachers were killed, teachers' unions across Illinois and America …
The cost of heading out of town this Memorial Day weekend will be higher than past years, with higher gas prices and inflation hitting travelers…
Health and Wellness
One of Connecticut's largest health systems launched a new resource in Hartford this month, aimed at helping patients access healthy and nutritious …