Child sex trafficking is a heinous crime and the victims deserve justice. Arizona laws that criminalize human trafficking are strengthening and convictions of traffickers are increasing. However, anti-demand efforts are lagging far behind.
A man who buys sex from a child is neither a “john” nor a “client”, he is a sexual predator. The perpetrator is a child rapist who steals their innocence and youth in exchange for $50 or $100. Research has indicated that demand from buyers for commercial sex is fueling the million dollar illicit market. As a result strong legislation must be passed that specifically targets the buyers and provides law enforcement and prosecutors with the tools for justice.
A.R.S. § 13-3212 has lightened the penalties for men who buy sex with a child who is 15-17 years of age when the prosecutor cannot show evidence of knowledge of the age. This means that a child rapist can walk away with as little as 180 days in jail. More shockingly, this low sentence can be further reduced to 90 days for a first-time offender who agrees to participate in an education program.
Join me in urging Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Representative Driggs to amend A.R.S. § 13-3212 to protect all children under the age of 18 and strengthen penalties for predators who buy children.
We commend the aggressive action and strong legislation aimed at criminalizing traffickers in Arizona. This has sent a clear message that traffickers are not welcome to conduct business in Arizona!
However, A.R.S. § 13-3212 has left children unprotected against the predators who fuel the demand for child sex trafficking. Men who buy sex with children under the age of 18 are child rapists and need to be held accountable for their crime. Under A.R.S. § 13-3212 there is strict liability for buyers if the victim is under 15. However, if the victim is 15-17, the state can only get 180 days UNLESS they prove the buyer knew or had cause to know she was in fact a minor.
The harm and victimization will last these young girls a lifetime – 180 days is not enough!! We are calling on you to increase the penalties for men who buy sex with children ages 15-17 to a Class 2 felony. This would align the penalties of this crime with other state laws involving crimes against children.
Thank you for your consideration of this request and your diligence in protecting children and bringing the perpetrators to justice.