Monday, 9 May 2011

Ghastly: Trafficking in girls

Horribly, multitudes of teen-age American girls -- mostly runaways from troubled homes -- are scooped up by pimps who use brutality and drugs to turn them into $1,000-per-night money machines.
Human slavery reports mostly focus on deceived girls from Russia or southeast Asia who are sucked into the sex trade -- but just as many U.S. victims can be found in backstreet bordellos and on street corners, new disclosures say.
Nobody knows exactly how many there are. Nathan Wilson of a Washington rescue operation speculates that 1.6 million teens, including foreign imports, are kept half-captive in U.S. prostitution. Other experts make lower estimates of 100,000 to 300,000. Numerous states are passing laws to break the sex traffic and rehabilitate the girls. Nonprofit groups are creating shelters where victims can flee to safety. The FBI prosecutes pimps under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times crusades against female trafficking worldwide. He once bought two girls from a foreign brothel for $150 and $200 to set them free. He and his wife have written a new book, Half the Sky, about oppression of women. Stunningly, Kristof told a college assembly that sex trafficking of girls now is 10 times larger than the slave trade was before the Civil War.
Last week, Kristof wrote that America's worst offense isn't "Mexican or Korean or Russian women smuggled into brothels in the United States.... The biggest trafficking problem involves homegrown American runaways." He outlined this scenario:
A 13-year-old girl feuds with her single mother, and the mom's boyfriend makes passes at her. The child "runs away to the bus station, where the only person on the lookout for girls like her is a pimp. He buys her dinner, gives her a place to stay, and the next thing she knows, she is earning him $1,500 a day."
Some of the confused girls think they're in love with their pimps. Others are beaten, plied with narcotics and threatened with weapons to keep them "turning tricks." They're exploited as moneymaking objects.
Recently, several young Manhattan prostitutes were found murdered on Long Island, evidently victims of a serial killer. The ugly case spurred calls for America to join other Western democracies in requiring that hookers be licensed, taxed, examined regularly for disease, and required to work in safe settings. The licensing process would thwart pimps who victimize underage girls.
Prostitution is a disturbing topic that most Americans won't face. But it's a reality that should be addressed with intelligence. Treating the girls as victims, not criminals, would be a wise step.

No comments:

Post a Comment