That's me! Second from the right.
It's official, folks. Last Thursday, I had the priviledge of standing with Governor Jodi Rell as she signed "Safe Harbor for Exploited Children" into law. We worked closely with Sen. Rob Kane, ECPAT-USA, The Barnaba Institute, and CT Voices for Children throughout our whole campaign. Governor Rell stated in her press release, “Far too often, these youngsters are being exploited – they are runaways, substance abusers, even victims of human trafficking,” Governor Rell said. “They are not criminals. They are youths who need the full protection of our laws. At these young ages, any reasonable person knows they have been forced into a dangerous and despicable enterprise. Any amoral individual motivated by greed to exploit these children will be dealt with harshly.”
Driving up to Hartford with Christine Fantacone of ECPAT-USA, we discussed plans for the next states on the horizon-- New Jersey is a possibility for our next collaboration! I have already been in conversation with Oregonians Against the Trafficking of Humans (OATH) as they begin penning language for Safe Harbor in their state.
The newly signed Safe Harbor law, which will take effect on October 1, 2010, makes prostitution a criminal offense only for people age 16 and older. Furthermore, it calls for creating a presumption, one that must be rebutted by the prosecution, that 16- and 17-year olds alleged to have engaged in prostitution were coerced or enticed. Also, the new Safe Harbor law increases the penalty for promoting prostitution of persons younger than 18--boosting sanctions to as much as 20 years in prison and fines of $15,000! Finally, it specifies that a person is still guilty of 'patronizing a prostitute'(actual language from the law) regardless of the 'prostitute's' age/even if the victim cannot be prosecuted due to age.