Editorial: Trafficking law takes positive step forward

Jul. 30, 2013 @ 01:50 PM

Too bad he called such outlandish attention to himself by calling Monday protesters morons.

Otherwise, there’d be more praise going around today for state Republican Sen. Thom Goolsby. He along with Sens. Tamara Barringer and Eleanor Kinnaird sponsored the Safe Harbor/Victims of Human Trafficking legislation Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law on Monday.

In short, North Carolina created stiffer penalties for those caught in human trafficking. It is a good step, but just as with any detriment, enforcement and convictions will ultimately make the difference. We can help.

In a prepared statement, Gov. Pat McCrory cited safety of children.

“It is important to protect victims and likely victims of human trafficking,” McCrory said. “These children should have every opportunity to live in a safe environment and without the prospect of living in fear.”

Under terms of the new law:

• Mistake of age will not be a defense. It is not enough to say the child appeared to be 18.

• Consent is not a defense. No more “he said she said” constituting agreement.

• Victims later known to have been forced into prostitution when they were not yet 18 can have the prostitution offenses wiped from their record.

• Prostitution offenses for the first time related to commercial sexual exploitation can be deferred or postponed.

• Via the Fair Wages Act, those convicted of trafficking must compensate their victims.

• In North Carolina, pimping is a felony.

• Sexual acts with a prostitute are felonies.

• Solicitation of prostitution, on a second offense, is now a felony.

• Penalties for trafficking minors and those over 18 have an increased felony penalty.

Hard to imagine children could be the ones convicted of prostitution when these heinous acts happen, but the old law left then vulnerable. Now, victims can be treated and given services; and pimps and johns will bear the burden of responsibility.

Again, when they’re caught and convicted.

More of us have to be vigilant in that regard. We have to know more about this cottage industry, how to recognize and what steps to take upon suspicion.

Two of the better websites are encstophumantrafficking.org and ovc.ncjrs.gov. More information is also available from Tri-County sheriff’s offices and police departments.

Trafficking humans is a tragedy. And we must fight this atrocity.