Post By: Kelsey McGee
Hello! My name is Kelsey McGee and I am a second year law student. I am working on a survey of state prostitution laws for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE). NCOSE works in many areas to curtail the widespread effects of human trafficking, sexual abuse, and prostitution. The NCOSE law center works on lawsuits to protect public policy through removing the presumption that pornography, prostitution, grooming children for sexual abuse, and sex trafficking are normal parts of society.
I search through each state’s statutes for how buying-and-selling-sex is punishable under the rule of law. I am shocked by the differences in how states handle underage prostitution; the penalty for prostitution, buying a prostitute and, “managing” a prostitute; and how the state has addressed the issue of human trafficking. Most states provide an affirmative defense to prostitutes who are being trafficked by a third party. However, the District of Columbia does not provide that defense. Missouri allows localities to implement laws to target areas that experience a high volume of prostitution. Generally, most states have statutes that do not allow a buyer of a child for sex to use ignorance of age as a defense for exploiting the child.
While the knowledge about prostitution and its root causes has expanded significantly in the past 10-15 years, it is clear that we have a way to go before we truly protect individuals from exploitation. Creating a defense for prostituted persons, increasing the penalty for buying children for sex, or allowing trafficking survivors to recover civil penalties from their oppressors is a step in the right direction for protecting individuals. But, it does not prevent people being swept up into prostitution. Knowledge is only powerful if we use it.
As Christian law students and lawyers, we are advocates by the nature of our profession and by virtue of our calling. The Bible is full of stories of advocates for the vulnerable. Psalm eighty-two tells us to defend the weak and the fatherless; to uphold the cause of the oppressed. Esther used her position and voice to advocate, risking her life to protect the Jewish people from destruction. Like Esther, we use our voices through legal avenues to advocate for the vulnerable. This project has provoked me to think and pray more about how to advocate for this group of exploited persons. Exploited individuals need advocates who represent them in litigation as well as advocates who create the rule of law and see that it’s enforced.
This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Student Staff member. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.
 About, National Center on Sexual Exploitation, https://endsexualexploitation.org/about/.