By Mike DeNardo

VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) —   Eliminating sex trafficking in Pennsylvania was the topic of a daylong conference today at Villanova’s Law School.

The forum brought together activists, academics, law enforcement, and legislators to compare notes on how to put an end to women and children forced into lives of prostitution.

Michelle Dempsey (below right), associate dean for faculty research and development and a Villanova law professor, says Pennsylvania could start by adopting a so-called “safe harbor” law that protects prostituted children.

(Villanova law professor Michelle Dempsey.  Photo by Mike DeNardo)

(Villanova law professor Michelle Dempsey. Photo by Mike DeNardo)

“So oftentimes, our criminal justice system has penalized the victims — the people who are being prostituted, the children and the women who are on the streets or in the brothels or in the hotels being sold.  They’re being treated as criminals rather than the people who are creating the market demand for commercial sexual exploitation.”

She says another strategy is establishing a specialized court with a holistic approach to prostitution, similar to Philadelphia’s “Project Dawn” Court.

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