Trinity Mount Ministries

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

SC lawmakers proposing harsher punishment for sex traffickers

Julie Calhoun 

South Carolina law makers are proposing a bill that will give stricter penalties for solicitation of prostitution and sex traffickers. The proposed bill will also help human trafficking victims who find themselves behind bars.

The Rape Crisis Center of Horry and Georgetown counties said human trafficking victims often get arrested for prostitution. This proposed bill could help their defense.

The bill will establish affirmative defense when a victim of human trafficking is charged with prostitution. Which means evidence of human trafficking can be used in their defense.

"We really need to have  a lot of education for law enforcement and solicitors about what a human trafficking victim really looks like because its not always what we picture," said Nicole Service, volunteer coordinator at the Rape Crisis Center.

The Rape Crisis Center said teens ages 14 to 17 are the ones lured into sex trafficking, and believe they are in a relationship with their trafficker which is one reason why sometimes they don't want to turn them in.

"People are given an option give up your pimp or trafficker and they don't want to and they are charged with solicitation," said Service.

They said another reason not turning their trafficker in is out of fear. Most human trafficking victims the Rape Crisis Center deals with are in their thirties by the time they realize they're a victim.

"It can be difficult sometimes for people to recognize that someone at that age who it may seem like they're doing what they're doing willingly is actually a victim of human trafficking," said Service.

The bill also includes harsher punishment for those who force someone with a mental disability into prostitution and someone who runs a brothel.

"When it comes to any legislation regarding human trafficking or prostitution. We should really be listening to people on the ground, and that's sex workers and victims of human trafficking," said Service.

The first offense is a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail. The third offense means a $1,500 fine or a year jail. For those who force someone with a mental disability into prostitution, that's 2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine. 

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