Yesterday, I wrote about the fact that a variety of Religious Right groups have come out in opposition to a bill in Georgia that would offer young sex trafficking victims therapy and rehabilitation instead of prosecuting them as prostitutes.
Since then, I have been trying to figure out just what would make conservative Christian groups oppose such an effort, but all I have been able to find is insane explanations such as this:
“Only pimps, traffickers and johns believe children should be in prostitution, so why make it legal for minors under the age of 16 or 18?” said Tanya Ditty, Director of Concerned Woman for America.
Ditty and her group agree that child prostitutes are victims who need help, but don’t think decriminalizing their behavior is an answer.
Her group claims it would only tie the hands of police.
“Upon arrest, victims of trafficking can be identified and placed in diversionary programs designed for rescue and rehabilitation or provided with an affirmative defense to criminal charges,” Ditty argued.
“The arrest is the action that allows for identification, education and rehabilitation of these children,” she added.
Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire called the bill “horrible,” but said it opens the door for discussion on the issue now that “teenage prostitute” has become acceptable language.
“We can now do something about it,” Luquire said, adding that the proposal decriminalizes prostitution for both parties. “The solution is to go after the buyer. If you eliminate the market, you’ve eliminated the crime.”
Judy Craft of the Georgia Christian Alliance praised the effort as well-intentioned, but misplaced. She said the bill would give “immunity” to young offenders.
“Young, vulnerable and afraid, getting arrested may be the only way these young girls can get off the street and away from their pimps,” Craft said.
She said such a law could open the door for pornography featuring children with no consequences.
The legislation is not going to “decriminalize” prostitution; it would merely change the law to prevent prosecution of those under the age of 16. Since state laws against the sexual exploitation of children and age of consent laws remain in place, those who expolit children in this manner would still face prosecution but the victims would not, which is something these right-wing groups would know if they bothered to actually read the bill:
The inability to prosecute any person involved in an alleged act of prostitution shall not bar prosecution of any other party charged with a violation of this chapter nor serve as a defense to such crime.
The whole point of this effort is to get the young victims of this sort of sexual exploitation away from those who can harm them and offer them therapy and rehabilitation instead of prison terms.
But for some reason, the Religious Right is opposed to it and is defending its position by claiming that the legislation is designed to protect pimps and pedophiles.