Laws & Acts

Safe Harbor Act– Bill A.5258, sponsored by Assembly Member William Scarborough and S.3175 sponsored by Senator Dale Volker

The Safe Harbor Act seeks to give children under the age of 17 the services that they need to get them rehabilitated instead of incarcerating them. Children as young as 11 and 12 years old are being forced into prostitution and the state was giving them jail time instead of services that will help them through the traumas they were subjected to.

Badly needed funding for the Safe Harbor Act was given to the organizations requesting funds-but it’s still not enough.

Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act-Written and sponsored by Assemblymember Amy Paulin

On May 1st 2012, Assemblymember Amy Paulin, (D-88th A.D.) Chair of the Committee on Children and Families, announced the introduction of the “Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act” (A.9804).

This bill recognizes that buying children for the purpose of sex is sex abuse. It increases penalties on the traffickers and allows law enforcement to receive the resources they need to put the traffickers in jail. The bill was written to raise both sex and labor trafficking to class B felonies and also puts in line patronizing a minor for sex with statutory rape. If an adult has sex with a minor, it’s considered statutory rape, if the the adult hands the minor a $20 bill the charge is lessened. Paying a child to have sex with an adult should be the same as statutory rape.

Another update to this bill is to allow for wire tapping. Because victims are in a vulnerable and fearful state, they may not always be in the right state of mind to testify against their trafficker. Allowing a wiretap to be set up as a fool proof way to bring the trafficker to justice as well as protect the victim.

The bill also increases the penalties for traffickers so that the punishment matches the severity of the crime.

In the old penal code the word prostitute appears several times when referring to a trafficked person. Nowhere else in the penal code does it attach that type stigma to a thief, murderer or even a rapist. This bill is seeking to change the term “prostitute” to “prostituted person” removing the stigma and not judging the victim by what they have been subjected to.

This bill has the support of top law enforcement and human right organizations, Center for Battered Women Legal Services for Sanctuary For Families Director Dorchen Leidholdt stated: “This legislation enhances protections for trafficking victims-some of New York’s most vulnerable residents- and increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who fuel the growth of this massive underground industry.

Unfortunately this bill has not yet passed. But with continual lobbying we can encourage the  Senators in Albany to see how important it is to pass it unedited and not to fit the needs of politics while disregarding the women and children it is intended to help.

The Campaign to Rescue & Restore Victims of Human Trafficking-U.S. Department of Health ans Human Services

Council on Women and Girls

Proposition 35- California Vote for the 2012 Election Year

Fact Sheet

New anti-trafficking  bill signed by Mayor Bloomberg of New York City that will fine livery cab drivers who transport young girls for prostitution $10,000 and revoke their license.

A bill that was put out by city Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Elmhurst Queens)holds livery cab drivers accountable for aiding in the trafficking of young girls was signed on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s radio station, something that he has never done before. The hefty fine and promises of revoking licenses and based station licenses of drivers who knowingly transport young women for sex is a step in the right direction. This bill got support from both the Democratic and Republican parties. When the bill was initially put in front of Bloomberg he had reservations signing it due to the fact that he wasn’t quite sure how that would affect the women in New York City and their ability to be able to get a cab. Once the bill was made clear to the mayor as to how it would work, he signed it immediately. This really is a positive victory for New York City, kudos to Councilwoman Ferreras for writing it!

TVPJA (Trafficking Victims Protection And Justice Act)

What is the tvpja?

The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) is is proposed New York State legislation (A.506/S.7) sponsored by Assembly member Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza.TVPJA would improve New York State’s efforts to end human trafficking by enhancing protection for trafficking victims – particularly for sexually exploited children. The TVPJA increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who fuel this criminal industry and prevents re-victimization of trafficking victims by the justice system through the following measures:


Currently, an individual convicted of buying sex from a minor receives a lower penalty than one convicted of raping a minor of the same age. This bill creates the felony sex offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor,” aligning the penalties for buying sex from a minor with those for statutory rape. Furthermore, like accused statutory rapists, those accused of engaging in sex with minors cannot avail themselves of the defense that they didn’t know the age of the child.
In 2010, New York amended its Criminal Procedure Law to enable sex trafficking victims to vacate prostitution convictions. The TVPJA establishes sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution, encouraging defense counsel to investigate their clients’ experiences carefully and bring trafficking concerns to the attention of prosecutors and courts. Preemptive advocacy will contribute to New York’s efforts to protect victims and reduce trafficking, and reduce the need for post-conviction challenges.
In order to hold traffickers accountable, prosecutors need strong evidence that does not rely exclusively on traumatized victims’ statements. Currently, while investigating traffickers, law enforcement can obtain judicial warrants to intercept conversations only when they can establish coercion or that the victim is under sixteen-years old. This amendment would enable law enforcement to pursue wiretaps when there is probable cause to believe that a suspect owns or manages a prostitution business, operates a sex tourism business, or is pimping children under eighteen-years old.


The use of the term “prostitute” is the only instance where the Penal Law identifies someone by the crime he or she has allegedly committed. This bill replaces all references in the Penal Law to “prostitute” with the phrase “person for prostitution.”
The TVPJA passed in March 2015.

Human Trafficking Intervention Courts.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the creation of 11 Human Trafficking Intervention Courts in New York State.  The creation of the Human Trafficking Intervention Courts marks a shift in how the court system views individuals arrested for prostitution.  Rather than treat them as criminals, the court will make it possible for girls and women trapped in the sex trade to obtain much needed social services and support.



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