Oregon’s 2013 Legislative Session saw the enactment of Senate Bill 673, which made it a felony charge to purchase sex from a minor under 15 years old, previously only a misdemeanor.
This new law contributed significantly to the launch of the Demanding Justice Project from Shared Hope International, a new initiative aimed at bringing attention to the “demand” side of the supply-and-demand equation in the market for sex with children.
Today is the first day of the 2015 Legislative Session, and many new sex trafficking related bills are on the horizon. Chief among them is a bill that would create a “hearsay” exemption for child trafficking victims, allowing them to testify against their traffickers without appearing in court.
This would be similar to Oregon’s existing domestic violence hearsay exemption, which was one of the first of its kind in the country.
Also, Oregon’s first safe home for underage victims of commercial sexual exploitation opens its doors this month. The Sage Home serves girls ages 11-15 from around the state of Oregon and provides them with a safe and secure setting in which to move toward their goals, build self-esteem and resilience, and reconnect to the community.
Funding for the Sage Home was set aside during the 2013 Legislative Session. The home will be run in a partnership effort between the state, community foundations, and faith-based organizations.
In the entire nation, there are estimated to be less than 500 beds for child sex trafficking victims.
Be sure to visit Share Hope’s Legislative Action Center through this spring and summer to track key dates as new legislation progresses and needs support from citizens in all parts of the state.
Photo credit: Sean Griffin
January 2015 is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and it will be the third year of Child Trafficking Awareness Month in Southern Oregon and in our local communities.
As in previous years, both the Jackson and Josephine County Commissioners are issuing proclamations, as well as the cities of Medford, Ashland, Central Point and Grants Pass.
The Rotary Club of Medford is presenting the Chosen film to their group this month, and will hear a briefing about the current state of this issue as it pertains to the Rogue Valley.
Grants Pass High School is launching the Prevention Project, and meetings are scheduled with several other schools to discuss bringing the same curriculum to their respective student bodies.
Awareness opportunities for the general public include a documentary film screening at the Medford Library, as well as a class – Sex Trafficking Awareness 101 – being taught at Club Northwest.
Regular ACT monthly planning meetings will be held as usual and are open to all those interested in becoming involved in the fight against sex trafficking in Southern Oregon and beyond.
Beginning February 4th 2015, The Prevention Project will be offered to students at GPHS. The 6-part curriculum focuses on the subjects of international human trafficking, sex trafficking in the U.S., the influences of media and the oversexualization of our culture, student empowerment, and career opportunities in social justice issues.
Watch the 12 minute video on the Prevention Project website for more information.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden traveled to Medford last week to meet with local organizations and discuss the growing problem of sex trafficking within Oregon.
In attendance were:
Dr. Johnson has provided care for survivors of sex trafficking for over 10 years. She is currently the Clinical Director at Engedi Refuge, a safe home for trafficking survivors in Washington State.