When it comes to fighting for the rights of sexually trafficked children and teenagers in the state of New York, it’s hard to feel a sense of accomplishment. New York City is statistically the worst city in America when it comes to under-aged sex trafficking. This is obviously the case for many reasons. Someone of reasonable intelligence would assume that since NYC holds the worst report card on under-aged sex trafficking that New York State would hold the toughest laws on the crimes.
Said person would be dead wrong.
The state has, for too long, criminalized these innocent victims and allowed sexual offender after sexual offender to walk free of charge. That’s all about to change.
Two weeks ago Forsaken Generation was contacted to gain support for a bill going up for vote within New York. The Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) states:
“This proposed legislation (A.9804/S.7212) improves the State’s efforts to end human trafficking by enhancing protection for trafficking victims—particularly for sexually exploited children. It increases accountability for buyers and traffickers who are fueling the growth of this massive underground industry and it helps prevent re-victimization of trafficking victims by the justice system.”
Currently in NYS, a person convicted of keying someone’s car and inflicting damages over $250 would face an E Felony charge while that same person convicted of sexually trafficking a minor would face an A misdemeanor.
Immediately we began contacting people we knew via Facebook, Twitter, and through our e-mail lists. We asked everyone to go online and send letters to their Senators urging them to vote in favor of TVPJA.
Sean Wrench, the founder of Forsaken Generation, felt like we needed to contact our local Senators for personal meetings. We started with Sean’s district in Auburn, NY. We called Senator Nozzolio’s office, and after explaining why we were calling we were placed on the phone with the Senator’s Chief of Staff. We spoke and were able to set a meeting that Wednesday.
We spent the next night preparing for the meeting. We prayed, we studied the ins and outs of the bill, and we researched Senator Nozzolio and his track record for voting.
The next morning we all met up, dressed in our Sunday best, which is challenging since you’ll typically find us in jeans and t-shirts. We prayed and prayed some more while we drove to our meeting. We asked God for favor with the Senator, for peace to rest in the office and upon our shoulders, and we prayed that the staff’s hearts would be softened and grasp what we had to say. Everyone was nervous and quiet as we made the drive there.
Here we are, Sean, Avril, and myself all going to meet with the Chief of Staff for a Senator, ready to argue why it’s so important to vote in favor of this bill. It was intimidating to say the least.
We walked into the office building and introduced ourselves to an intern who asked us to have a seat in the waiting area. After 10 minutes we were welcomed into an office where we met Joan, Senator Nozzolio’s Chief of Staff. We all shook hands and sat down around a coffee table. As we sat down Joan informed us, “I’ve spoken with the Senator this morning and I told him who you were, that I was meeting with you, and for what reason. He wanted me to tell you that he is passionate about this bill and will be voting in favor of TVPJA when it comes to vote.”
We didn’t have to say another word. I believe God had moved so wonderfully in that office that we didn’t have to argue a point, the decision had already been made!
I believe we are seeing a swing in the legal system of America that’s favoring human trafficking’s innocent victims. New York, Ohio, Florida, and California have all been featured in many stories in recent weeks about laws being changed in their states that will offer more care and help for these victimized children and teenagers. We must all stand together for these kids.
As Christians, it’s our duty to defend those who cannot defend themselves, to protect the victim, and bring healing for the broken. As individuals and as a church, it’s time to stand and raise our voice, these children have no one else to speak for them.