Texas Needs to Follow NY's Example & Not Charge Child Prostitutes
Here's a situation: You are a 13-year-old girl forced into prostitution by an adult pimp. Despite the fact thirteen is under the age of consent, and you can't even legally have sex with a peer, let alone with an adult, you are still charged with the crime of selling sex. Oh, and the 32-year-old man who got you started? Well, he walks free.
If that sounds outrageous, it should. But that exact situation is currently going on in Texas. As a blogger for the San Antonio Current explains,
"The case involves a girl identified as B.W., taken from her mother at age 11 and placed with Child Protective Services. After running away from CPS, she was picked up by Houston Police Department officers two years later after they observed her trying to sell herself on the street. She was booked on charges of prostitution. Later, after her age of 13 became known, she was placed in the juvenile system and charged with delinquency for committing prostitution instead of returning her to CPS."
Texas is not the only state to treat sexually exploited children as criminals. New York, for example, did the same thing until the passage of the Safe Harbor for Exploited Youth Act in 2008. The act is set to go into effect this April, and
"Requires local districts to provide crisis intervention services and community based programming for exploited youth. Currently, individuals under the age of 18 who are arrested for prostitution or other illegal activities of a sexual nature enter the criminal justice system with the legal presumption that they are juvenile delinquents. This bill...decriminalize[s] child prostitution, recognizing these children as victims, not criminals, and provide[s] them with necessary social service."
This law demonstrates an important change and it is something that a state like Texas (which has already locked up more than enough abused children), should consider adopting.