Survivor Safety: Safe Harbor Legislation

Nov 02nd, 2022

Maryland still prosecutes children who are being trafficked. Currently children can be charged in the criminal or juvenile justice system for acts that are directly related to their victimization including prostitution and other related offenses. Children are, by law, considered victims of human trafficking per se if they are engaging in sex work; however, unlike any other victimization, they can also be charged for the very act that makes them a victim. This paradox in the criminal justice system leads to further victimization both as children, but often leads to further abuse as adults.

The Safe Harbor bill would create a law to provide a safe harbor for child victims of sex trafficking and prevent prosecution for acts committed as a result of trafficking including prostitution and other related offenses. Children, would instead, receive services and assistance instead of being forced to fight against the stigmas associated with societal views on sex work and the criminal justice system for acts that were committed against them.

MCASA continues to work with its allies to help pass this important legislation. Although the Safe Harbor bill did not pass in the 2022 Maryland Legislative session, it will be introduced again in 2023. To stay up to date on this proposed legislation join MCASA’s email list for Elerts and other update, Learn more about Sex Trafficking and the services SALI offers to Maryland survivors of sex trafficking on MCASA’s website.

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