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NYATN Statement on 2015 Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act: Calling on the NYS Senate to Pass Additional Anti-Trafficking Legislation

The NY Anti-Trafficking Network (NYATN) is the first network of anti-trafficking service providers, policy advocates, and activists in New York State. NYATN has provided direct legal and social services to several thousand survivors of human trafficking since 2002. NYATN is dedicated to ending human trafficking and to providing qualified and appropriate services that give survivors the help they want and need in reclaiming their lives.

NYATN roots our advocacy work in basic human rights principles. We are dedicated to a nuanced approach to anti-trafficking efforts that reduces reliance on the criminal justice system and instead values economic opportunity, immigration policy change, and gender equality. We stand firm in promoting dignity, self-determination, and opportunity for people of all genders and experiences.

Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (A.506/S.007)

NYATN welcomes efforts to improve New York’s current anti-trafficking law—already one of the strongest and most comprehensive in the country—particularly those efforts aimed at meeting the needs of trafficking survivors. We are extremely pleased that the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) includes a private right of action for survivors of trafficking to seek compensation and economic justice, as well as an affirmative defense for people trafficked into prostitution. We appreciate that the TVPJA streamlines access to services for survivors.

While passage of the TVPJA is an important step forward in providing for the needs of trafficking survivors, its primary focus appears to be on enhanced criminal penalties that neither prevent trafficking, nor protect victims and survivors of trafficking. In fact, some of these provisions—such as the increase in penalties for crimes involving vehicles—actually harm victims of trafficking, as it is often a driver who facilitates escape from a trafficking situation. The provisions focused on prostitution in a school zone do not address trafficking at all. In addition, the provisions adding new offenses to the sex offender registry are not designed to identify traffickers or survivors of trafficking, and they do not prevent trafficking. In fact, they cause greater harm to young people and others at risk of being trafficked. Finally, the TVPJA does not equalize treatment of trafficking into all labor sectors.

NYATN is concerned and disappointed these unnecessary and potentially harmful provisions on criminal offenses have been included in the final TVPJA. We continue to call for responses to trafficking in persons rooted in human rights and dignity for all people at risk of being trafficked.

Next Steps

We applaud Assemblyman Joseph Lentol for recognizing several service-related elements were missing from the TVPJA and addressing this in a separate bill, A.2953. The Assembly has wisely passed the Lentol bill, and we now call on the Senate to take action this coming session. We ask for immediate action on this important additional component of New York’s anti-trafficking response and urge both houses to also pass the End Criminalization of Condoms Act, which would protect those most vulnerable to trafficking into prostitution. NYATN understands that enactment of the TVPJA does not signify that we have met all of New York’s anti-trafficking legislative priorities and recognizes there is more that can be accomplished toward this goal. We look forward to working with the Assembly and Senate to continue to improve New York State’s response to this crucial human rights issue.

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Report Release – #OurFairCity: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Gender & Sexual Justice in New York City

The Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School announced the release of its report, Our Fair City: A Comprehensive Blueprint for Gender & Sexual Justice in New York City, which includes contributions from NYATN.  Among the report’s recommendations are

  • Prohibit NYPD Practice of Using Condoms as Evidence for Prostitution-Related Offenses,
  • End Collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Deportation and Detention, and
  • Facilitate Access to Services for Trafficking Survivors.

Please use @NYATN and #OurFairCity to post or tweet about this report.  Read more….

Florrie Burke’s Op-Ed: Forced Into Prostitution — and Denied a Lifeline

NYATN member Florrie Burke’s op-ed, “Forced Into Prostitution — and Denied a Lifeline,” about S1379/A2736, the No Condoms As Evidence bill, appeared in today’s Huffington Post.  She says, in part, “This bill should prohibit prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence to support prostitution-related charges, including trafficking.”  She adds, “In reality, a condom may be the one protection a victim of trafficking has from a trafficker’s assault on her or his human rights, autonomy, and body.”  Read more.

Urban Justice Center’s Petition on the “No Condoms as Evidence Bill”

Urban Justice Center created a petition in support of New York’s “No Condoms as Evidence Bill:”

Over 27,000 people already sent letters to the NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking him  to tell police forces to stop considering condoms as evidence of intent to commit any crime and by making public statements declaring that no one should be afraid to practice safe sex in their city.

“Now, a bill in the state legislature would make it illegal to use condoms as evidence of intent to commit the crime of prostitution.”

Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, and others have been advocating in support of the No Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution bill (S323/A1008).  The bill passed the Codes Committee and is now on the floorShow your support: Please vote YES on Assembly Bill A1008/Senate Bill S323.

In light of the Secret Service Scandal, NYATN Member Sienna Baskin Stresses the Plight of Sex Workers

NYATN Member Sex Workers Project Co-Director Sienna Baskin stresses the plight of sex workers in light of the prostitution scandal that has rocked the Secret Service on ABC News.  In support of New York’s A1008/S323, which would prohibit police and prosecutors from citing possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution, she states, “We’ve found in New York that when sex workers are criminalized, they are afraid to go to police when they are victims of crime, including theft, rape and human trafficking.”  Show your support for A1008/S323Read more….

NYATN member Sex Workers Project supports “No Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution” bill

The San Francisco Chronicle covered NYATN member Sex Workers Project’s advocacy efforts in support of a bill that would ban law enforcement from using condoms as a reason to arrest sex workers in Albany, NY yesterday.  An excerpt from the article:

“‘We have heard from clients so often that they’re afraid to carry condoms because of police harassment that we know it’s having a public health impact,’ Sienna Baskin, co-director of the Sex Workers Project, said in a telephone interview yesterday. ‘This would be New York taking a leadership role and addressing an issue other states haven’t yet addressed.'”

Show your support for the New York bill.  Read more….

Support New York’s “No Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution” bill

Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, and others have been advocating in support of the No Condoms as Evidence of Prostitution bill (S323/A1008).  If enacted, this bill would prevent condoms from being used to prove acts of prostitution in criminal or civil court. The New York Times wrote in part:

“‘Now there’s more support,’ said Sienna Baskin, the co-director of the Sex Workers Project of the Urban Justice Center. She cites the New York Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and the Public Health Association of New York City as some of the organizations that have been compiling research to convince lawmakers. In July, both Human Rights Watch, which is working on a national study of the issue, and George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, which is compiling an international study, will release their reports. ”  Support New York’s billRead more….

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