Wow. 15 minutes ago, the CT Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed S.B. 153: “A Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children.” ECPAT-USA, Barnaba Institute, and CT Voices for Children have been our closest organizational allies in the past couple months in pushing for Safe Harbor. It certainly helped that the President Pro Tempore, Donald Williams, was in favor of the bill. I was also quite encouraged that my own state senator, Toni Harp, voted in favor of the bill. Just got off the phone with her legislative aide, who was eager to learn more about the realities of sexually exploited children in CT. I’m sure Sen. Kane, the original sponsor of the bill, is heartened by the bi-partisanship! And thank you, Abbe Smith, who interviewed Love146 for a front page article in our local paper! A collective shout is truly a beautiful thing. To all our CT activists and those around the world who voiced your support, we can’t rest easy just yet— the House still needs to vote, and Governor Rell must decide to sign it into law.
If Safe Harbor does indeed become law, it would tremendously help in nurturing a new paradigm of compassion and justice in CT. Judging by some of the comments to the New Haven Register article (which, thankfully, is not the prime indicator of public opinion), some of my fellow Nutmeggers need a radical shift in their understanding of what it means to “take responsibility.” How exactly would a minor, who cannot even legally consent to sex, be deemed fit to “take responsibility” for his or her own abuse and exploitation? I do believe it is on par with the opinion that rape victims are responsible for their own victimization–shall we blame it on what they wore? What party they decided to attend? Whom they decided to date or marry?
Nay, I say. Traffickers: please take responsibility. Customers–I mean–exploiters: please take responsibility. And fortunately, we are on the brink of having a new law that will help you to do a better job of that.