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By Thea Skinner

San Diego has one of the highest rates of child sex trafficking in the U.S.

October 10, 2012 (San Diego's East County)--Proposition 35 would increase prison sentences and fines for anyone convicted of human trafficking — the illegal trade of human beings for sex slavery or forced labor. Prison sentences would be increased to 15-years-to life, with fines up to $1.5 million. Prop 35 would also require anyone convicted of sex trafficking to register as a sex offender and disclose identities they use on the Internet, along with which sites they visit. 

In a rare show of unity, this proposition is supported by both the California Democratic and Republican parties.

Supporters of Prop 35 say the proposition will deter traffickers from committing brutal human rights abuses by strengthening current laws that do little to protect victims. Increasing the risk for human traffickers and online predators is essential, supporters say, to combat the financial incentives that make sexual exploitation a lucrative criminal business, as well as one that is easily done through the Internet. According to the FBI, California is home to three of the highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

Supporters of Prop 35 include the California Labor Federation, the California State Sheriff’s Association, the California Police Chiefs Association, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, Crime Victims United, San Diego Deputy Sheriffs Association, San Diego Police Officers Association, the Human Rights Project for Girls, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, and the California Teachers Association.

Leah Albright-Boyd said in the voter guide, "At 14, I ran away from a troubled home and into the clutches of a human trafficker. For years, I was trafficked and abused when I was still just a child. As a survivor of trafficking, I’m asking Californians to stand against sexual exploitation and vote Yes on 35."

Opponents of Prop 35 say the measure threatens innocent people, because anyone receiving financial support from consensual prostitution among adults could be prosecuted as a human trafficker. This would include a sex worker’s children, parents, spouse, landlord and others. Opponents also say Prop 35 doesn’t provide money for enforcement. Opponents assert the measure will cost California more as the state will likely have to defend the measure in court.

Opponents of Prop 35 include the Erotic Service Providers Legal, and Education and Research Project, Inc.

Attorney Cindy Liou works with trafficking victims at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach, located in the Bay Area.

 "It incorrectly presumes that increased prosecution and protections of trafficking survivors is entirely premised on increased penalties and fines rather than a comprehensive approach," Liou said.

For more information visit: Yes on Proposition 35: No on Proposition 35: check CA Secretary of State GUIDE for official website. Also visit: Voting occurs Nov. 6.

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