On the 18th of November, the DC Council passed the first reading of the Sex Trafficking of Minors Prevention Amendment Act. The core of this act is a safe harbor law, which will address the inconsistent and inhuman treatment of children and raise awareness about children that have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

This bill, if passed through the DC Council’s second reading on December 2nd, will ensure that children under 18 will no longer be arrested or prosecuted for prostitution in DC.

Arrest and prosecution isn’t a good way to connect survivors of child sex trafficking to services. Survivors need time and space to commit to accepting services in order for the services to be effective. Services are more effective when clients are able to voluntary access them.

This new law is a tremendous tool to fight sex trafficking in the DC area. It will help service providers to assist young victims of sex trafficking much more comprehensively and will prevent survivors from being thrown into jail for a crime they didn’t commit. Both the legal protection this new law provides and the provision of services are necessary to continue to support young survivors of sex trafficking in the DC area.

Amara is extremely grateful that the bill passed its first reading this week. It’s a reward for all the advocacy efforts of our organization, together with all the other organizations that supported this bill. We sincerely thank all the organizations that helped to push for this bill and all council members for voting in favor of this milestone bill. Amara would like to especially recognize the DC Alliance for Youth Advocate’s incredible work on this bill, as well as the tireless advocacy efforts by Fair Girls in support of this bill.

Please join us for the second reading and final vote of the bill on December 2nd at the Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW!

By Daan Krauss