This election season, CALCASA has been following Proposition 35: Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act (“Case Act”). Prop 35 is an initiative aimed at fighting human trafficking, strengthening laws regarding sexual exploitation, and recognizing trafficked individuals as victims and not criminals. Our priority is to inform our member rape crisis centers and sexual assault advocates throughout California on the potential benefits and drawbacks of such legislation.
The FBI recognizes three cities in California – Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego – as high intensity child sex trafficking areas. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center reported 19,427 calls from across the country in 2011, 1,869 of which came from California.
Many rape crisis centers and sexual assault advocates are finding that they are serving more and more survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and human trafficking as human trafficking and sexual violence intersect in a multitude of ways.
“Sex trafficking is the act of forcing or coercing a person to perform sexual services for the offenders’ profit or pleasure. It is the main sector of forced labor in the United States. These crimes are primarily committed against women and children. Victims have often been raped, assaulted and are constantly threatened. Some of the victims are illiterate, undocumented immigrants who do not report abuses to the authorities for fear of arrest, injury to family members, deportation, or other serious reprisals. Many victims are underage runaways, or children who have been abducted from their homes. Most are isolated from their family and social network. See recent example: Operation “Vice Grip” – Sex Trafficking: In 2011, federal authorities indicted 38 individuals for the sex trafficking of underage girls and women.” – From AG Kamala Harris’ office
According to the statewide ballot long-form description, Prop 35 will:
– increase criminal penalties for human trafficking, including prison sentences up to 15 years to life and fines up to $150,000
– use fines collected to support victim services, prosecution and investigation of trafficking cases
– require persons convicted of trafficking to register as a sex offender
– require sex offenders to provide information regarding Internet access and identities they use in online activities
– prohibit evidence that the victim engaged in sexual conduct from being used against the victim in court proceedings
– require human trafficking training for police officers
Some opponents have expressed concerns that raising sentencing standards is not a crime prevention tactic and that higher sentencing in cases may make more defendants challenge their cases in court. They also are concerned that the current fine structure would prevent some victims from being able to access restitution since the funds generated from the fines go first to prosecuting and investigating agencies and victim services.
What everyone agrees on is that Human Trafficking is exceptionally complex, as is its response.
Our work at CALCASA is focused on comprehensive prevention and intervention efforts in the movement to end sexual violence, as evidenced by our continued support of legislation that promotes the health, wellbeing, and healing of survivors and their support systems. CALCASA continues to support an emphasis on a survivor centered response to all forms of sexual violence, and additional resources for its survivors.
To learn more, visit:
The California Attorney General’s Office
Prop 35 Supporters Resources