Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Workshops to inform voters on ‘Safe Harbor’ ballot question

Published October 6, 2016

ATLANTA—Experts at upcoming workshops will share information with voters about the so-called “Safe Harbor” amendment proposed for the Georgia Constitution.

The discussion will focus on the commercial sexual exploitation of children, current statistics, and how children victimized by sex trafficking can recover. Panelists will include Safe Harbor task force members, Georgia lawmakers, law enforcement officers and survivor advocates.

Upcoming panel presentations will be offered on Saturday, Oct. 15, 10 a.m., at St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta; Tuesday, Oct. 18, 7 p.m., Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Atlanta; and Thursday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m., St. Ann Church, Marietta.

Advocates state that hundreds of children each month are exploited for sex in Georgia and the average age of a child victim of sex trafficking is 13.

Voters are being asked whether to approve an amendment to the state constitution to dedicate funding to help child victims of sex trafficking. It will be decided at the ballot box on Nov. 8. An amendment is required to dedicate state funds to a particular purpose.

The ballot question is “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow additional penalties for criminal cases in which a person is adjudged guilty of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children and to allow assessments on adult entertainment establishments to fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund to pay for care and rehabilitative and social services for individuals in this state who have been or may be sexually exploited?”

If approved, an estimated $2 million will be available yearly for services to help victims. The money comes from a new tax on adult entertainment places and additional fines paid by convicted sex traffickers.

The workshops are being organized by the Archdiocese of Atlanta Justice and Peace Ministries and the Office of Life, Dignity and Justice.