Fighting juvenile sex trafficking
Recently, the Portland metro region has made national headlines as a hub for juvenile sex trafficking. Also known as commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC), this issue is a top priority for Commissioner Saltzman. Juvenile sex trafficking intersects with several issues that the Commissioner is already committed to, including domestic violence, foster care, and child abuse. Working with non-profit organizations, government agencies, and community partners, here is information and resources about the City's efforts to end juvenile sex trafficking.
Providing services for victims
- A pilot housing program for adult trafficking victims So far, six women are living in their own apartments. This program is in partnership with JOIN, LifeWorks NW, and the City of Portland.
- Sustainable funding stream The City is now able to seize items such as cars, cell phones, computers, and cash from pimps and johns.
- The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services Created by Commissioner Saltzman and County Chair Jeff Cogen, the Gateway Center is a resource for victims facing any type of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, including sexual exploitation. Click here to enter the Gateway Center website
Engagement with law enforcement:
- The Portland Police Bureau has increased its Human Trafficking unit to a total of 4 officers and 6 detectives. These officers regularly conduct missions and investigations, and emphasize relationship building with victims. All victims are given information about LifeWorks NW's New Options for Women program.
Lobbying for changes to state law:
Oregon state law regards prostitution as a crime regardless of the victim's age. Currently, state legislators are working to change these laws. Below is the City of Portland's legislative priorities regarding trafficking:
Objective: Support legislative efforts aimed at reducing sex trafficking. The City will support legislation that toughens penalties for buyers of sex and that strengthen prosecution against those who exploit victims.
Issue: The Oregon Department of Human Services and the Portland Police Bureau have currently identified 100-130 juveniles as suspected or confirmed victims of human trafficking. Currently, statutes relating to prostitution (ORS 167.700) classify both buyers and sellers of sex as equally culpable and do not adequately address the criminality of exploiters. However, experience from law enforcement and social service agencies show that persons offering or agreeing to prostitution, especially juveniles, are often coerced and are not acting of free will. The City will support legislation that would:
- Separate the current prostitution statute (ORS 167.007) into two separate statutes that make “buying” sex a different crime from “selling” sex;
- Expand the definition of “compelling prostitution” under ORS 167.017 to include “institutes, aides, or facilitates a person under 18 years of age to engage in prostitution;”
- Include sex offender registration status to include those who engage in prostitution with a minor as a second offense and where the age difference between the offender and the minor is ten years or greater(ORS 181.594);
- Prohibit ignorance or mistake of age of a prostituted minor as a defense to engaging in prostitution with a minor or to compelling prostitution (ORS 163.325);
- Increase fines for those who buy sex from minors
If you know or think that someone may be trafficking or exploited, contact:
- National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-373-7888 for help 24 hours a day
- Sexual Assault Resource Center hotline 1-800-6405311 for emergency support 24 hours a day
- LifeWorks NW 503-710-1513 for counseling and long term support
- Senate Bills 425 and 430 and House Bill 2714 have all been signed by the Governor. A bill signing ceremony will be held Wednesday, July 20.