A proposed Georgia law beefs up the penalties for engaging is unapproved sex, specifically prostitution.
Among other things, it would permit prosecutors to target the spouses of prostitutes and it would require that those who use prostitutes to magically know whether a hooker is underage even if she claims to be older:
For people charged with human trafficking, the bill would prohibit such defenses as relation by blood or marriage (for parents exploiting their own children, or men pimping their own wives). It also bars such defenses as “I didn’t know she was 15 years old…she looked 20 to me!” or “Hey, she’s been a prostitute before.”
If that’s not enough, the new law would increase the maximum penalty for using a prostitute under 18 years old to life in prison, essentially making the crime as bad or worse than murder. Keep in mind that the age of consent in Georgia is 16, so it’s perfect acceptable for a girl to give it away, but selling it to feed and clothe herself is illegal.
Penalties for human traffickers would also be significantly beefed up, with the possibility of life in prison if the victim was under 18, and new fines of up to $100,000. What’s more, the state could seize any real or personal property that a trafficker used for, or bought with the proceeds of, the crime.
Of course, with those kinds of financial incentives, the state will have a lot more reason to convert more prostitution cases into trafficking cases. And how could they do that?
As for sexual exploitation, the bill would block charges for anyone forced to commit sex crimes, including prostitution, against his or her will.
A young prostitute is now guaranteed an attractive payoff to claim she was coerced and to testify against her pimp, assuming there is someone handy she can accuse of being a pimp. A pimp can be a landlord, massage parlor owner, or just a boyfriend. I think the legal term for this is ladder climbing. Essentially, prosecutors buy custom testimony from low level participants in order to fabricate a case against those higher on the food chain (whether a food chain exists or not). And make no mistake, a youthful witness will often say whatever a prosecutor wants in exchange for a free pass to walk out without charge.
Aside from their potential to raise revenue for the state through fines and property seizures, sleazy laws like this are designed to generate arrest and conviction statistics to prove fear-mongering claims that don’t otherwise jibe with reality. Anti-prostitution crusaders in Georgia are determined to do everything in their power to convince the world that Atlanta has a serious child prostitution problem. I have written about their strategy to generate statistics in the past and Maggie McNeil did a very thorough two-part critique of the so-called independent “research” methods designed to generate those forgone conclusions.