California has approved legislation decriminalizing child prostitution in an effort to combat human trafficking in the state. Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB1322 banning police from charging people under the age of 18 with prostitution.
The governor also signed other bills that will make the transition to normal life after being forced into the trade. This includes one that allows people to defend themselves should they be forced to commit an illegal offense as a human trafficking victim.
Others increase the age that kids can testify outside a courtroom in human trafficking cases from 13 to 15. They will also protect victims’ names from disclosure and mandate they have access to county services.
To facilitate the new laws, Gov. Brown announced that California’s 2017 state budget will include $19 million for these services.
New Child Prostitution Laws Will No Longer Charge Minors
The law is not without detractors however as some law enforcement groups argue that removing penalties from minors could give rise to problems. This includes not having a safe place to detain victims to keep them away from abusers.
As for the sex traffickers and those soliciting sex from minors, they will still face the penalties for illegal prostitution. The new laws only include underage prostitutes and do not cover traffickers and pimps which means they will still be prosecuted.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are known hotbeds of underage prostitution in the country. Many are runaways found by pimps and traffickers at bus stops, shelters, even foster homes.
According to a report by the FBI, the average age of these child prostitutes is 13. The report also states that after leaving the trade, their life expectancy drops down to a mere seven years.
Will decriminalizing child prostitution help protect minors from a life in the streets? Let us know what you think in the comments.