Show Mercy to Survivors of Child Sex Trafficking

Target: Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

Goal: Grant leniency to child sex trafficking survivors charged with serious crimes.

A young girl is reportedly raped multiple times before she even reaches her teen years. One of these alleged crimes results in a pregnancy, a miscarriage, and a suicide attempt. A home life with addicted and neglectful parents compounds this child’s mounting troubles. She soon meets a man decades older, who at first builds her trust with gifts and caring. Over time, by the girl’s account this man grooms her for sexual exploitation, feeds her drug habit, beats her, and threatens the lives of her family if she steps out of line. Desperate, the girl later agrees to participate in a robbery of this man’s home while he is allegedly in the midst of another act of sexual abuse. The man is shot and killed in the course of the robbery, to the girl’s apparent shock. She is seemingly not even in the room when the crime takes place. Despite these circumstances and despite the girl’s age (15), she—like so many other largely minority girls before her—is labeled a “child prostitute,” an orchestrator of the crime, is tried as an adult, and receives a life sentence.

Only recent action from the governor of the state where this tragic case took place finally acknowledged Alexis Martin’s status as an alleged victim of human trafficking.  She was paroled, but unfortunately, she will never be truly free. The murder conviction and all the stigma that comes with it remains a permanent part of her life.

Tales of stranger kidnappings and conspiratorial shadowy organizations often dominate the popular narrative about child sex trafficking. Yet cases like that of Alexis Martin (now renamed “Kee”) are the far more dominant reality. Children from broken homes fall under the control of “pimps” who groom, intimidate, manipulate, and exploit them in the worst ways imaginable. Historically, for minority children such cases were dismissed as promiscuity and the victims were shamed and blamed.

So-called Safe Harbor laws were supposed to be the solution, wherein minors involved in crimes who disclosed a history of trafficking had their cases reframed through a lens of support from therapists, lawyers, and law enforcement teams with a specialty in these issues. Inadequacies in this system failed Alexis, however. They continue to fail children across the country, especially in the many states where no such laws have even been enacted.

Sign the petition below to advocate for a national, strengthened Safe Harbor statute that will keep survivors of abuse from being re-victimized by the legal system.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

Safe Harbor child sex trafficking laws are meant to safeguard the thousands of children every year exploited and victimized by predators. At their best, these laws provide a framework of understanding and support for youth whose continued victimization has fueled their own illegal acts. Too often, the vagueness and poor implementation of these principles do nothing for survivors, though. Children are treated as hardened criminals, sent to prison, and have an incredibly difficult path forward even when they are released. The legal system, like so many other authorities in their lives, fails them and re-victimizes them.

Don’t fail these kids again. Advocate for a clear, comprehensive, national Safe Harbor law. Congress can reset the too-common narrative on America’s sex trafficking epidemic: an epidemic that takes particularly brutal aim at minority youth. Help save the forgotten children.

Sincerely

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lalesh Aldarwish


5 Comments

  1. Staci Wade says:

    SEX OFFENDERS ( ESP. REPEAT OFFENDERS ) SHOULD GET CASTRATED

    • patricia schwartzman says:

      Or secluded in a filthy prison for the duration of their miserable lives!

      • gabriela valerio says:

        Dear Speaker Pelosi,

        or if you convict them to a life sentence in a maximum-security prison they’ll have to behave or else …

  2. Teresa Zamalloa says:

    and his hands cut off!

  3. I don’t believe that most girls or women become prostitutes because they want to. There is usually a man behind her “crime”. The girls and women in this situation were probably abducted or runaways who have been taken advantage of. Each case should be fully investigated and the true victim treated fairly and with compassion.

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