Should Child Prostitutes Be Arrested?

9:47 PM, Feb 1, 2010   |    comments
  • State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Gwinnett County).
  • Tanya Ditty, Director of Concerned Women for America.
    
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ATLANTA - Each month nearly 400 underage girls are prostituting themselves on Georgia's streets, according to the Governor's Office of Children and Families.

Now two different groups with religious support are fighting under the Gold Dome to figure out the best way to stop it.

One group, lead by State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Gwinnett County), turned out a crowd of around 400 supporters at the State Capitol on Monday.

Most carried a single white rose to symbolize what they call underage victims, not criminals.

"Buying sex with children is child abuse no matter who does it," says Sen. Unterman.

She has introduced legislation that would ban arrests for any children involved in prostitution who are under age 16.

Sen. Unterman claims putting them in jail only increases the chance they will continue in the illegal profession and not get the counseling and help they need.

"That's what the system of care is about," she argues, "taking them, removing them from the streets of Atlanta and putting them into services so that they have a chance at life."

A few hours later another religious group spoke out against the legislation, which they claim would legalize illegal acts.

"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.

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