Today in Maryland, victims of child sex trafficking can still be arrested for prostitution. It’s past time for the state to pass legislation that says without a doubt: There is no such thing as a child prostitute.
Because children cannot consent to sex acts, by law, a child who performs a commercial sex act is a victim of sex trafficking. Currently, child victims of sex trafficking in Maryland can be arrested, charged, detained, and incarcerated for prostitution. It’s time to let our legislators know a survivor of child sex trafficking is not a criminal.
You can help by contacting your state representatives to let them know you support the Safe Harbor Bill (HB 297 / SB 292).
What is the Safe Harbor Bill?
Safe Harbor protects a child victim of human trafficking from prosecution for crimes committed as a result of their trafficking.
This common-sense law will prevent law enforcement agencies from charging or detaining a minor for offenses that are a result of being a victim of human trafficking. Instead, victims of child sex trafficking would be sent to a regional navigator, which refers victims to services providers – including Araminta – to assist with case management, therapy, housing, and other needs.
Updates to the Legislative Process
The House Bill passed February 24, 2023 on its third reading by a vote of 138-0 (with three House members absent).
The Senate Bill remains in the Judiciary Committee, with a vote scheduled for March 3, 2023.
How you can help: call or email your State Senator now to urge them to vote yes on Safe Harbor.
When you call or email, say:
I am asking you to vote yes on the Safe Harbor legislation (House Bill 297). This is a common-sense law because there is no such thing as a child prostitute. We need to protect kids who are victims of child sex trafficking, not prosecute them for crimes they are forced to commit by their traffickers. Maryland has consistently ranked in the bottom 10 states nationwide for treatment of child victims of sex trafficking. It’s past time to change that. Maryland can, and should, lead the way in addressing sex trafficking in our communities. We should work hard to put the traffickers behind bars, but we need to stop criminalizing child victims.
Find your State Senator’s contact information here.