New bill aims to end child sex trafficking in Georgia - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

New bill aims to end child sex trafficking in Georgia

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Georgia is home to the city named the capital of sexual exploitation in the U.S., and this week Governor Nathan Deal is taking a step to crack down on human trafficking and child slavery.

Governor Nathan Deal and human trafficking rescue groups both agree something needs to be done stop the issue, but they disagree on how to fix the problem.

Governor Deal wants to put the business of human traffickers taking advantage of children to an end.

"The legislature thought that this was an appropriate thing to do and I agree. The sex trafficking issue is one that our state continues to wrestle with," said Deal.

The legislation signed Tuesday, also known as Rachel's-Safe Harbor Law, cracks down on sexual exploitation of children by making adult entertainments such as strip clubs pay $5,000 annually if they are convicted of this crime and $2,000 for traffickers if the victim was 18 years and older.

Governor Deal says the state is constantly trying to fight this issue.

"Last year we had a legislation that requires the posting of noticing for individuals who want to get out sex trade or trapped in it," said Governor Deal.

Bishop Outreach, a nationwide human trafficking rescue organization, doesn't necessarily know if this will make the crime go away.

"We have to break the cycle of how human trafficking works, not only in the United States but globally. The only way to do it is to have key specialists who work with victims to be able to keep them safe and rehabilitate them," said Garry Marino of Bishop Outreach.

Lawmakers have said the money will be put in a fund to help kids forced into prostitution.

"I'm skeptical in a sense you're going to tax adult facilities, is that money going to be used for the rehabilitation of victims of human trafficking and will a system be put in place or does it become a revolving door," said Marino.

Under the new law, sexually exploited children will be treated as victims and not criminals.

Atlanta's underground market for sex trafficking is pretty lucrative, bringing in more than $290,000 compared to a city like Washington that does not even bring in half that figure.

Studies say Atlanta pimps make an average of $33,000 a week which is almost three times that of pimps in San Diego or Dallas.

In January 2014, Columbus had it own case of sex trafficking, where a 15-year-old went missing for over month. Thankfully, she was returned to her family.

Mayor of Columbus Teresa Tomlinson has stated in a previous interview Columbus does not have a sex trafficking issue in reference to kids being kidnapped and sold into the sex trade, and that is according to information she received from investigators. She acknowledges there is sex trafficking in our area, involving minors being forced into prostitution.

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