State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C, I – Schenectady) reports that he and his colleagues in the New York State Senate today unanimously passed legislation to save lives by preventing the exploitation of children and adults who are victims of human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (S5879B) toughens penalties against those who buy and sell young women, men and children and reduces the stigma defendants may face when they are victims of the massive $32 billion sex trafficking industry.
Key provisions of the measure include increasing the accountability of traffickers and buyers by raising the penalty for sex trafficking to a class B violent felony; creating the felony sex offense of “aggravated patronizing a minor”; and aligning the penalties for patronizing a minor with those of statutory rape.
The bill will also strengthen the investigative tools to make a case against traffickers. Sex trafficking will be an affirmative defense to prostitution and the term “prostitute” will be eliminated from the Penal Law, as that term stigmatizes defendants who are in fact victims of sex trafficking. Nowhere else in the state’s Penal Law are individuals identified by the crime they allegedly committed.
The bill will be sent to the Assembly.