Anti-human trafficking work is a major component of services at CHNY – 1 in 5 youth experiencing homelessness are also victims of sex and/or labor trafficking. CHNY believes that continued criminalization of those in the sex trade as it stands currently is not productive – at CHNY, we advocate for the Equality Model, a five-pronged legal approach that holistically addresses prostitution. Read more about the proposed Equality Model law in New York State by clicking here.
CHNY has been an advocate for victims of human and sex trafficking for several years – read our op-ed in the New York Daily News by clicking here.
You can also watch this video, which explores the real-world costs of New York City’s failure to prosecute the exploiters of human trafficking.
CHNY is actively lobbying for the following bills that address Anti-Human Trafficking/Commercial Sexual Exploitation
Decriminalizing the sale of sex, while still prosecuting the buyers and pimps/exploiters
At CHNY, we see every day how pimps and other traffickers/exploiters target young people experiencing homelessness. We therefore know that many of those selling sex are victims of exploitation/desperation and are in need of social services, such as housing, mental health care, medical care and vocational and educational training. Treating those who sell sex as criminals is not in the best interest of justice. We therefore are hopeful that NYS will pass legislation decriminalizing those who sell sex, so that they can be offered social services in lieu of prosecution. However, our years of experience working with survivors of trafficking and the sex trade has informed our belief that those who buy and/or promote the sale of sex are exploiting the most vulnerable among us for their own financial or sexual satisfaction. Decriminalizing the buying or promoting/pimping of sex would increase the numbers of sex buyers and put more money into the hands of pimps and traffickers, thereby giving them more financial incentive to exploit vulnerable populations.
For the above reasons, CHNY strongly supports S6040/A7069. Overall passage of this legislation would:
- Repeal laws calling for the arrests and incarceration of people in prostitution.
- Provide comprehensive trauma-informed social services (e.g., legal, social, clinical, medical, economic empowerment) to people in prostitution, including options should they wish to exit the sex trade.
- Continue to criminalize pimps and traffickers, brothel owners and illicit massage parlor owners.
- Provide for vacatur and expungement of certain offenses when the commission occurred due to a trafficking situation so that survivors are not hindered in finding employment.
A00459 (Gottfried)/S00674 (Ramos)
Vacating Convictions for offenses related to human trafficking
Many of the trafficking survivors we serve at CHNY have criminal records due to crimes they were forced to commit while they were victims of human trafficking. These previous convictions prevent survivors from fully moving forward with their psychosocial recovery and healing. In CHNY’s legal and vocational and educational training departments, we see how a criminal record imposes life-long, detrimental effects on trafficking survivors—limiting access to employment and educational opportunities, financial resources, housing, and unfairly stigmatizing victims for acts they were compelled to commit. A criminal record can also result in severe immigration consequences, including the threat of deportation and the inability to adjust immigration status or become a citizen.
Currently, New York state law only allows survivors of trafficking to clear a narrow subset of prostitution-related convictions related to their trafficking. However, pimps and other traffickers often compel their victims to commit a wide-ranging spectrum of crimes in addition to prostitution, including theft, dealing of narcotics etc. CHNY therefore strongly supports A00459/S00674 which will enable victims of trafficking to clear criminal convictions resulting from their exploitation beyond crimes related to prostitution. Read our Memorandum of Support – submitted to the NYS Assembly and Senate – by clicking here.
Provides immunity from prosecution for certain individuals engaged in prostitution who are victims or witnesses to a crime and who report such crime.
Many of the young people we serve who have engaged in commercial sex have experienced violence at the hands of both those who buy and sell them. Since the selling of sex is illegal in New York State, these young people are often afraid to report their abuse to law enforcement. This leaves those who abuse them unpunished and able to continue to abuse again and again. CHNY is therefore in strong support of A00255/S02233 which would encourage those who have engaged in commercial sex who are crime victims and witnesses to seek help without fear of being prosecuted for prostitution. As the bill memo for A00255/S02233 states, “We all deserve the right to safety and health care services. It is in the public interest to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward and aid law enforcement. This bill will help deter violent crimes and protect vulnerable New Yorkers.” We wholeheartedly agree and believe that all of our young people, but especially those who are in harm’s way due to their engagement in commercial sex, deserve to be protected from abuse and assisted by law enforcement without fear of prosecution. The passage of A00255/S02233 would go a long way to protect some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.