Child Prostitution on the run

May 14, 2010 by  

Some day may it not be said that Phoenix, Arizona is ‘home’ to over 300 underage girls trapped in prostitution – average age:  13. 

Because it’s not so now. 

Most are lured into the seedy life through false pretences,  abuse, manipulation and intimidation.  Their lives or their family’s lives are often threatened beyond belief and they can imagine no way out.

Up ’til now current law hasn’t helped.  It allows the “john” to escape criminal prosecution for what is often incredibly violent sexual abuse because he has been able to claim not knowing the girl was a minor – so prosecutors haven’t bothered even trying to bring charges.   A “Normal” prostitution charge would only bring a $50 fine. 

But this session, legislators passed and the Governor signed significant legislation that removes that defense – providing the protection in law these children deserve.

After realizing the police just didn’t have the tools they needed to prosecute these abusers, former Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten, Cathi Herrod with the Center for Arizona Policy, Pastor Larrie Fraley and other members of the faith community advocated faithfully for several years for the statute change -telling the girls’ true life stories in committee and working with legislators to craft the bill. 

But that’s not all they’ve been doing.  Many churches have joined together since 2009 to surround girls wishing to escape this bondage with a safe place and the intense ministry opportunities they need.   They’ve taken the huge responsibility of committing not only their time, but millions of dollars to begin and sustain this needed ministry. 

Visit Streetlightphx.com to find out how you can volunteer and thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Driggs for making this a priority bill this session.  I had the honor of serving on the Judiciary Committee, as well, this term and working to pass the legislation.

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