Columbus rally held for child sex trafficking victims

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Human trafficking survivors and advocates are coming together Friday afternoon to hold a rally called “Restoration, Not Criminalization”.

Organizer of the rally and founder of Survivor’s Ink Jennifer Kempton says it’s about taking a stand for child victims of sex trafficking who are being prosecuted as prostitutes. She says children are not able to consent to exchanging sex acts for money.

“There’s no such thing as a child prostitute,” says Kempton. “Unfortunately, we have a lot of work to do. Those safe harbor laws are great, but they’re not being implemented correctly.”

She says the rally is spurred from the case against LaTesha Clay. Kempton says Clay is a 16-year-old girl from Grand Rapids, MI who has been given a 9 year prison sentence for involvement in a crime that lures child rapists or “Johns” in order to rob them.

“She was used as bait in a robbery and the sickest part about this whole thing is that the so-called victims or defendents in this case that she was charged with, are child rapists,” says Kempton. “They were there to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.”

She says they want to get Clay out of prison and get her restorative treatment and the care she needs. She says they want Clay and other minors to be seen as victims, not criminals.

Kempton says she’s seen similar cases to Clay’s here in Ohio and has helped be an advocate to girls who had not been placed into proper sex trafficking rehabilitation programs.

“Here in America a lot of people think that they choose to live like that,” says Kempton. “But, who chooses to be raped?”

Kempton says it’s going to take a lot of suvivors, politicians and community members to stop human trafficking. That’s why they’re marching to the statehouse today.

“We can remain blind to a problem if we don’t want to see it,” she says. “Anywhere there’s a hotel, anywhere there’s a traffic stop, anywhere there’s a freeway, anywhere there is the internet…this is happening.”

Marlene Carson is also a survivor and advocate. She says she’s walking to spread awareness and support Clay.

“LaTesha was charged and convicted of a crime that she’s a victim of,” says Carson. “These teenage girls if they cannot consent to sex, how can they be charged with a crime like this?”

She says they’re speaking out against the injustice of children like Clay and countless others.

“It is a total misconception that these girls are doing what they want to do and that they have choices,” says Carson.

About a dozen or more survivors and advocates marched today. Similar rallies were held in other cities across the nation.

“We got some honks and we got some peoples eyes open so I would say that’s successful,” says Kempton.

Click here for more information on the meaning behind the rally.


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