Can’t we all agree that young girls who are commercially sexually exploited by being prostituted are victims of child abuse and that it is the pimps and johns, not the victims, who should be punished?

Can’t we also agree that young girls who have been victims of sexual exploitation should receive services and counseling and not an arrest record?

It was inspiring to see the halls of the Capitol filled on Monday with hundreds of advocates urging an end to commercial sexual exploitation of children at a lobby day sponsored jointly by A Future Not A Past, Street Grace, and Wellspring Living.  The advocates seek to build upon the work that Georgia has already done to enact one of the toughest laws in the nation for perpetrators who sexually exploit our children and establish a system of care for the victims that relies on intense care coordination and strong collaboration with law enforcement.  This session, they are supporting SB 304, legislation sponsored by Sen. Renee Unterman which would set the minimum age of prostitution at 16 (the legal age of consent in Georgia).

So why does the AJC think this might become

“the season’s most disputed issue?”

 

On Monday afternoon, a group of representatives from organizations such as the Georgia Christian Coalition and the Georgia Baptist Convention organized a press conference at which they stated their opposition to SB 304 which they claim legalizes prostitution.  Future Not a Past, Street Grace, and Wellspring Living disagree and state that

“it will always be a crime to prostitute a child but that doesn’t mean we have to arrest the victim.”

 

All of the advocates at the Capitol on Monday- the ones at the lobby day and the ones at the press conference- want to end prostitution and child sexual exploitation.  We are hopeful that they will put aside misconceptions that they may have about one another and work together to ensure that child victims get the intense care that they need and that perpetrators are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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