New York is one of only two states that requires the prosecution to prove coercion in sex trafficking cases involving victims who are minors. Monday, legislators joined trafficking victims at the Legislative Office Building, demanding action and change.
Advocates and survivors are calling for support of a bill sponsored by Assembly Member Amy Paulin. It would remove the requirement that prosecutors in New York have to prove a child sex trafficking victim was forced to have sex, and would prevent a child from having to testify.
Shanifa Bennett, 21, spoke at Monday’s press conference. At age 17, Bennett was homeless and a victim of sex trafficking.
"Please pass the End Child Sex Trafficking Act and protect our children from the exploitation and abuse that I and thousands of other girls and young women in New York State endure on a daily basis," Bennett said. "Sex trafficking of children is one of the most brutal crimes there is."
According to a national report on domestic minor sex trafficking, at least 100,000 children born in the U.S. become sex trafficking victims each year.