On January 11, 2016, a date proclaimed as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, an inexcusable atrocity was committed against the human rights of a child. At the same time that government officials, law enforcement agencies, advocates, survivors and allied citizens of the United States brought attention to modern day slavery and the importance of being victim centered, our own justice system failed in the protection of a 15 year old human trafficking victim. News media stories disregarded her status as a minor and published her name, while maliciously burdening her with guilt, as our society is prone to do without consideration of facts and laws that attempt to extinguish the plague of victim blaming. Her charges of armed robbery and unlawful imprisonment are predicated entirely on her involvement as a child advertised online, to be purchased for sex. This is an act that a minor cannot be held responsible for consenting to under federal and state law. It is also not required for force, fraud or coercion to be proven in cases involving minors under federal and state law in order to prove that the minor is in fact, a human trafficking victim. This can be found in Michigan state law at:
Trafficking a Minor MCL 750.462e
Covers both sex trafficking and labor trafficking of a minor
NO Force Fraud or Coercion Required
“regardless of whether the person knows the age of the minor”
In addition, Michigan is a state that has enacted Safe Harbor laws relating to victims of human trafficking.
Safe Harbor – Safe harbor was one of the key reforms in the 2014 Michigan human trafficking legislative package.
2014 PA 336 amends MCL 750.451 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by presuming that a minor found engaging in prostitution is a victim of human trafficking and mandates law enforcement to refer the minor victims for appropriate treatment within the Department of Human Services.
2014 PA 342 amends MCL 712A.2 to provide Safe Harbor to minor sex trafficking victims by establishing probate court jurisdiction for minor human trafficking victims who are dependent and in danger of substantial harm.
2014 PA 335 amends MCL 780.621 to provide Safe Harbor by allowing victims of human trafficking to clear their criminal record of crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.
Latesha Clay of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was used as bait for a robbery scheme which placed advertisements inviting sexual acts with a teen on Backpage so that men would respond. These were not hapless victims, but predators who arrived with the intention of sexually assaulting Latesha, the true victim. Michigan Penal Code lists Solicitation of prostitution as a crime, Prostitution and Solicitation, Sections 750.448 – 750.462 – See more at: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/michigan-law/michigan-prostitution-and-solicitation-laws.html#sthash.nH2pSng4.dpuf
Furthermore, the same human trafficking laws provide for certain penalties when solicitors attempt to purchase minors for sex:
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