Under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), any person under the age of 18 who performs a commercial sex act is considered a victim of human trafficking, regardless of force, fraud, or coercion. Washington State is currently in violation of federal law: the state continues to arrest and charge minors for prostitution, even though they are under the legal age of consent. Exempting minors from charges of prostitution and creating therapeutic alternatives would bring Washington in compliance with the TVPA as well as up-to-date with current best practices.

Shoshana Wineburg, YouthCare’s Public Policy and Communications Manager writes,

“As we approach the 2020 legislative session, Washington lawmakers have an opportunity to comply with federal law and disrupt the sexual abuse to prison pipeline. In accordance with Congress’ example and the voices of survivors, we should treat CSEC with the victim-centered, trauma-informed protocols developed specifically for these situations. If there’s one thing we can take away from recent headlines, it’s that we can’t afford to wait. “

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