Senate OKs raising age for prostitution charges

Michigan lawmakers are trying to combat human trafficking and improve the state's treatment of victims with a large bill package moving ahead in both chambers.
AP Wire
Mar 27, 2014

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to raise the minimum age for prostitution charges to 18 from 16 years old.

The recommendation to create a "safe harbor" provision for minors was among many resulting from a six-month review last year by the state's human trafficking commission. A partner bill that passed the Senate last month requires courts to refer minor victims to the Michigan Department of Human Services for care.

Safe harbor legislation is the "critical first step" needed to bring about meaningful change in how the state deals with human trafficking, according to Bridgette Carr, director of the human trafficking clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.

"If we can't get it right about kids who are being sold for sex, I don't have a lot of hope that we can get it right for the rest of the victims of human trafficking," said Carr, a member of the state commission.

The Senate also voted Wednesday to expand the definition of racketeering to include girls under the age of 18. It's currently a felony to entice a girl under 16 away from her guardian for prostitution, sex or marriage.

Foster care agencies would consider whether a child could be a trafficking victim under another bill that passed. The agency would be required to make mental health or counseling services available if the child was thought to be a victim. A fourth bill would create related training standards for health care professionals.

The bills, which now go to the House, are part of package of more than 20 human trafficking bills introduced in the Senate and House last year. Many of those bills have already passed one chamber, including a Senate bill allowing victims to sue their traffickers for damages and a House bill increasing maximum penalties for people who solicit sex from 16- and 17-year-olds to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

"As we work toward enacting policy that will reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in Michigan, it is critical for us to remain focused on a victim-centered approach that will increase our chances of protecting children and adults from these horrific offenses," bill sponsor Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, said in a statement Wednesday.

Attorney General Bill Schuette and lawmakers who worked on the November report also want to increase awareness in Michigan of human trafficking as a local and global issue. The commission identified more than 300 human trafficking victims in the state but believes the problem is underreported and available data are inadequate.

The report said Michigan is thought to be a trafficking hot spot because of its international borders and waterways.

Comments

Lanivan

Hmmm....This article was introduced several hours ago, and not a single comment about the sinfulness of humanity that there is actually a market for very young and innocent girls who are kidnapped and forced into human trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and all other related means of debasement, humiliation, slavery, and pathological sexual deviations - and most performed by heterosexual males. Not a single comment to be had. Apparently, business as usual.

But articles about same sex marriage between two individuals who happened to be born gay, fall in love, and want to form a family appear, and the comments blow up the Grand Haven Tribune Online. Disgusting.

drkathryn

I'll second that. Thank you.

Vladtheimp

You are right, of course - I also wonder why there is not a single comment about how Islamists treat women in general, and young women in particular. Is it a fear of criticizing a culture that precludes comments on the obvious or simply moral relativism?

Lanivan

Ok - Admit it. You had a sly smile on your face when you wrote the words...."you are right, of course"....after my recent declaration of our never attaining agreement nirvana.

I confined my comment to the victims that are the subject of this article/legislation. But there are certainly plenty of other victims - in all countries, societies, and religions. I definitely lean more towards moral universalism than moral relativism. Man's inhumanity to man knows no boundaries, the potential is in all of our psyche's - deeper in some than others, and is wrong no matter what culture you live in.

tartarus12

Human trafficking is bad. I hope the two of you are satisfied.

Lanivan

Thank you tartarus12. You have singlehandedly restored my faith in mankind.

LessThanAmused

uhhhh, I think you forgot this ----> :-S

Lanivan

=):-)

Barry Soetoro

That had a Barry-esque tone to it.

Lanivan

It did! You have an influential presence in this forum. I mean it - no sarcasm....really....no kidding...

Back to the Wall

I won't support it until the definition of racketeering is changed to include boys under the age of 18, and it also becomes a felony to entice boys under 18 away from their family into prostitution.

Equal protection and all that...

Why do these lobbyists and lawmakers hate gay men?
Evil, prejudiced, white women.

\\smug]

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