What do you consider a greater crime: trafficking marijuana—or a thirteen-year-old girl? This is the question that will soon be posed to Georgia legislators. A House Bill introduced last week would increase the penalties for trafficking in the state to the level of drug trafficking. It would also include trafficking victims in the state crime victims’ fund—offering them support and an affirmative defense—and would assist law enforcement and prosecutors in helping combat trafficking. House Bill 200 is urgently needed legislation: sign this petition and show your support today!
To outsiders, Georgia brings to mind peaches, collared greens and sweet accents—but according to several in-depth studies, sex trafficking should be added to that list. In 2005, the FBI named Atlanta as one of 14 cities in the nation with the highest number of children used in prostitution—and the problem hasn’t gotten better. Last January, a study reported that 400 girls are commercially sexually exploited in Georgia each month, and the average age of these girls is between 12 and 14 years old. In another Georgia study, the number of internet ads featuring women described as “young” received up to 175 percent more inquiries than the ads that did not mention age.
House Bill 200, which was introduced by Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta), would address this by giving criminals the penalties they deserve. Trafficking offenders would face up to 20 years in prison, and 50 years if convicted of trafficking a child—the same penalties as convicted drug traffickers. The bill also has several other progressive provisions, such as allowing the state to seize property bought through trafficking profits.
According to The Examiner, a similar bill was introduced last year, but failed due to its inability to address this complex issue. This legislation has been put together with input from police, prosecutors and Georgia advocacy groups and social services, and promises to truly make a difference in how trafficking is fought in Georgia. Send this petition to Georgia legislators today!