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Editorial: Sex trafficking victims need more recourse

Editorial: Sex trafficking victims need more recourse

Legislation expands statute of limitations on civil cases against traffickers
Editorial: Sex trafficking victims need more recourse
Photographer: Shutterstock

New York lawmakers have the power to take some control away from sex traffickers and give it to their victims, by supporting legislation to extend the statute of limitations on human trafficking offenses and give victims more legal power to collect civil damages in court.

The state Senate is considering a bill (S3032) that would change New York’s laws that currently favor the traffickers.

Under the bill, the state would expand the degree of civil action that could be brought against sex traffickers from recovery of legal fees to compensatory damages and punitive damages based upon proof of malice, oppression, fraud or duress experienced by the victim.

Another important provision of this bill involves extending the statute of limitations for bringing civil litigation. 

Under this bill, the victim would have seven years from the date of freedom from captivity or 10 years beyond the age of majority if the victim was a minor when the victimization occurred.

If the sex trafficker uses intimidation to delay the start of civil proceedings, the time allowed for bringing action is extended.

This bill would give victims more power over their abusers and allow them to collect greater damages for the abuses they suffered.

On a broader level, it provides greater recognition of the complexity of child sex trafficking cases and recognizes that the trauma victims suffer can take a long time to face and overcome.

While this legislation is important, it’s just one step New York needs to take to address the human trafficking problem.

According to Protected Innocence Challenge, an international organization formed in 1998 that fights on behalf of human trafficking victims, New York received a grade of D in 2018 for its efforts to fight trafficking and to protect victims. 

Since the organization started giving out grades in 2011, New York was only one of three states not to see its grade improve.

The organization is hosting an online effort seeking passage of the Senate bill by tweeting and emailing lawmakers.

You can do them one better by contacting your local legislator’s office directly and asking them to support this bill and others that will turn the tables on sex traffickers.

Since the bill currently no Assembly sponsor, contact your local members of the Assembly,  too.

The common age for first-time sex trafficking victims is 14-16. Little kids.

Victims often are compelled to stay with their traffickers — sometimes for many years — through intimidation and violence.

When victims do escape or are rescued, they need to have the legal tools necessary to reclaim their lives and ensure their captors are punished.

This legislation will give victims a greater opportunity to secure that.

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