Media Contact: Traci Rowe, 919.349.1825, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
RALEIGH, NC – NC has consistently been ranked among the top ten (10) states in the nation for the presence of human trafficking. However, this week, we can celebrate the NC legislators for passing Senate Bill 683 that will push NC far from these rankings as NC becomes one of eight states with Safe Harbor legislation to protect minors under 18 charged with prostitution.
Victims of sex trafficking endure immense repetitive trauma and abuse, yet purchasers and traffickers continue to demand sexual services and enslave victims to fulfill their desires. Tragically, many acts of sex trafficking, such as prostitution, pornography, escort services, are still viewed as voluntary rather than involving victims of sex trafficking. SB 683 works to address these situations by increasing penalties related to prostitution and to provide protection for victims of this sexual exploitation.
NC Safe Harbor legislation required rewriting the prostitution statues, including higher penalties:
- Solicitation of prostitution and/or patronizing a prostituted person (engaging in sexual acts) is now a felony offense, except when first offense is with an adult victim.
- Promoting prostitution (pimping and facilitating) is now a felony offense in all cases.
- The level of felony offense is now graduated when victim of the offense is a minor under age of 18 or a profoundly mentally disabled person.
Safe Harbor Legislation includes stronger protection for victims:
- All minors, under the age of 18, are protected from prosecution for charges of prostitution
- Consent of a minor, under the age of 18, cannot be used as a defense
- Mistake of age cannot be used as a defense
- Prostitution offense can be erased from a human trafficking victim’s record
- First offender program created for prostitution offense committed by an adult
- Requires offender to compensate their victims, according to the Fair Wages Act
Many have supported this legislation and worked tirelessly to incorporate a holistic bill that addresses sex trafficking in North Carolina. Thank you to Senators Goolsby, Barringer, and Kinnaird for sponsoring the bill, and fifteen additional senators for co-signing with them. Thank you to multiple Representatives who introduced similar bills in the House and worked diligently to make SB683 a best fit for NC; especially Representative Glazier for successfully guiding the bill through the House conference committee. Thank you to Governor McCrory for supporting and signing the bill into law making a safer and more just North Carolina. Thank you to the many advocates who continue to work with legislators.
NC has also passed three (3) bills this session that help support efforts to eradicate sexual exploitation. SB 122 requires convicted human trafficking offenders to register on the Sex Offender Registry (April, 2013); HB 75 Kilah’s Law increases child abuse penalties (April 2013); and HB 149 Caylee’s Law mandates the reporting of missing minors (May, 2013). We celebrate these efforts! However, further laws are needed to address labor trafficking as well as increasing specific penalties for human trafficking to move NC out of the top ten states for the presence of human trafficking.
PATH NC is a 501 (c ) 3 non-profit in NC