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Victims Urge N.Y. State Lawmakers To Strengthen Penalties For Sex Trafficking

(Credit: CBS 2)

(Credit: CBS 2)

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ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sex trafficking victims gathered in Albany Tuesday, sharing their stories and urging New York state lawmakers to pass stronger criminal penalties for forcing someone into sexual servitude.

Despite widespread support, the measure failed last year. It was part of a package promoted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that also contained a controversial abortion provision.

This year, it has been introduced as a stand-alone bill.

The women who spoke at Tuesday’s event near the Statehouse said lawmakers shouldn’t delay action on human trafficking because of unrelated debates about abortion policy.

One 18-year-old New York City woman related how she was kidnapped at age nine, sold into sexual slavery and forced to sleep in a locked closet. She says the bill would crack down on trafficking while making it easier for victims to get help.

“Every minute that passes there is a child or a teen who is being sexually trafficked,” the woman said. The Associated Press does not identify the victims of sex crimes. “It is happening right here in New York.”

Last year, the bill foundered after it was included in a legislative package that also contained a measure that would have matched New York abortion law with the rights spelled out in the Roe v. Wade decision. The Senate objected to that piece of the legislation, but supporters of the abortion language in the Assembly refused to split up the bill.

It was a late-term abortion proposal that sank each and every one of the measures, even though its ardent supporters said it would not actually change abortion practices.

The bill last year also included measures to protect women’s rights at work and at home when they face domestic violence.

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdsale) is the new bill’s sponsor in the Assembly. She said she is optimistic that tougher penalties for trafficking will pass this year as a stand-alone bill.

A vote on the bill has not been scheduled.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)