Through art, victims and advocates push for harsher penalties for sex traffickers

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jun 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-07 19:03:04-04

This artwork shows pain. It tells a story of a young girl– a sex trafficking victim.

Katie Cappiello, artistic director of The Arts Effect NYC said, “In this piece the girl is describing a very dark place, she is covering her body and her private part.”

art1When you here of sex trafficking, you may think of women and girls being smuggled  from abroad, but the reality is teens are been forced into a life of hell right here in the city.

Lauren Hersh, director of equality now said, “Our most vulnerable girls are victims, they are young teens with issues maybe at home or in school and they are preyed upon by older guys.”

The platform for this expression is made possible through programs like Project Impact with the support of several organizations lobbying to help victims.

In 2007, New York State passed an anti-sex trafficking law, but since then there has been no drop in the number of teenage girls exploited, raped and forced into prostitution.

So these women want tougher penalties for sex traffickers.

Right now if busted, traffickers face a d-felony, which is classified as a non-violent crime.

Hersh added, “These crimes are extremely violent, the girls are abused, raped, attacked repeatedly.”

For eight weeks the girls who are behind this art work, poetry and song were given a safe haven, a place to turn and outlet but they need more. In most cases these same girls — the victims —  are arrested and treated like criminals themselves, while the “johns,” sex traffickers and buyers are given a slap on the wrist.

The advocates are working with organizations including Equality Now, The Arts Effect NYC, Gateways, JCCA.

So far several lawmakers and Governor Cuomo support a new bill that will impose tougher sentences for those convicted of sex trafficking.

The group will travel to Albany before June 20th.