An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 children are at risk of commercial sex exploitation in the United States, according to End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT), which created the tourism code.
Sex trafficking isn't prostitution, which is engaging in sex with someone for payment. The crime of sex trafficking has three parties: one person holding the victim, while using "force, fraud or coercion" to make the victim engage in sex acts for payment, and the third party paying for the sex, said Brad Myles, executive director of the Polaris Project, which operates the hotline with funding from the U.S. government. If the victim is a child, no force, fraud or coercion is required for the sex to be a crime. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/29/travel/hotel-sex-trafficking/index.html)
What? At least 100,000 children are being used every year for prostitution or porn in the USA. The average age is 13, but some are much younger.
Where? Major cities are worse (Las Vegas, D.C., Atlanta, Dallas, etc.), but child pornography and pimping takes place all across the country, even here in the Midwest. “The first 20 or so times were the hardest. Then you sort of get used to it and you don’t think as much about it.” –Former child sex trafficking victim from Kansas City, Missouri.
How? Some girls are trying to escape an abusive family life. Many are from foster homes. Others are just rebelling, but most of these girls are running away enticed away from their families by a pimp posing as a boyfriend. He promises them a life of “dreams come true” and love “ever after.” They have no idea what they are getting into until the rape and physical abuse starts and then the demands to take tricks. They are then trapped because of their age, lack of finances (they don’t get to keep any of the money), physical abuse, and the fear and manipulation. Many fear for their lives if they even contemplate escaping.
When? Pimps steal these kids under the guise of love and escape and they also kidnap outright. They look for kids at busy places, like malls, schools, parks, and group homes.
Why? Part of the major problem lies with the prosecution. These children are often made to feel the criminals instead of the victims they are. Although they are the ones to spend jail time, pimps are rarely found or prosecuted and “johns”—the men buying and placing the demand—often escape with no consequence. Buyers need to face harsher penalties. As long as there are people to buy, there will be product to sell.
I would love to get some feedback (if you feel so led). What types of ways could we spread awareness and provoke change?