We sat in court and Raquel doodled butterflies and rainbows and wrote a poem about feeling lost. I scribbled down our next court date and told her I would meet her in the lock-up when the court officers led her away. She was my first young client charged with prostitution. Sitting beside me with long fake nails and extensions in her hair, she looked older than her age of 14, but not much. The idea that our justice system charges young girls like Raquel with prostitution, and sometimes locks them up — she spent one year in detention — shocked my friends and relatives who were frequently surprised about the realities of the juvenile justice system when I shared moments from my work.
Teachers can be the first line of defense against child sex trafficking, according to Maria Velikonja, a former FBI agent who has worked on human trafficking issues for the United Nations. During a two-day conference on sex trafficking at Georgia State University, in Atlanta, Velikonja spoke about the warning signs educators should watch for in their students and what teachers can do to keep their students safe. The conference, Not in Georgia: Combating Human Sex Trafficking, organized by the Georgia Department of Education, was the third part of an ongoing series of lectures on the sex trade. In a lecture titled, “Combating Human Sex Trafficking in Georgia: What Public School Educators Can Do,” Velikonja began by outlining some of the basics of sex trafficking for teachers. “What does a potential sex trafficking victim look like?” she asked the small crowd.
Some Indiana lawmakers are scrambling to protect kids from the threat of forced prostitution by adding child trafficking to the state’s list of sex offenses in advance of Indianapolis hosting next February’s Super Bowl. Amid all the fanfare and its reputation as a boon to tourism, the Super Bowl has also won some infamy for attracting a sex trade that caters to fans willing to participate in the exploitation of children. From StarTrib.com of Terre Haute, Ind.:
Before the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas … Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot, described the party-filled event as “one of the biggest human trafficking events in the United States.”
Law enforcement in Miami, site of the 2010 Super Bowl, also had concerns that underage prostitutes were brought in from Central America for tourists in town for the game. Indiana state Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, sponsored legislation this year directing a study committee to look at whether current state law on child solicitation needs to be expanded.
A small study out of Chicago indicates that many pimps were forced into the sex industry and trafficked as children, leading to a horrible cycle of abuse. Researchers at DePaul College of Law surveyed 25 pimps, finding that 68 percent were trafficked as children and 76 percent were sexually abused. According to the survey by researchers Brenda Myers-Powell and Jody Raphael, many pimps now traffic kids themselves and “earn” between $150,000 and $500,000 a year, often by taking all the income of some of their prostitutes. The authors admit the survey was imperfect, but you can read the full report here.
In a new article, an assistant law professor at UNC School of Law argues that children involved in commercial sexual exploitation should not be charged with crimes. The article, “The Youngest Profession: Consent, Autonomy, and Prostituted Children,” to be published in the Washington University Law Review takes a critical look at laws that allow minors to be criminally prosecuted for prostitution. The full article is subscription only, but a detailed abstract is available here.
It was a sea of black and purple in every direction on the steps of the state capitol Tuesday morning. An estimated 800 people showed up to join in the third annual “lobby day”
event to raise their voices — and overall awareness—about the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Georgia. “When we first started this we were told that 10 people showing up at the state capitol was a groundswell; now we’re rocking it,” says CSEC activist Cheryl DeLuca Johnson. “The first time we did this we had 50 people come out; then the next year we had 100. Last year it was about 500.
A lot has been written about girls in the sex trade but less is know about boys involved in prostitution. WABE Radio reports that an unknown number of boys work in the sex trade and advocates want to change that. The radio station has also broadcast other stories about child prostitution in Georgia, including a two-part interview with a former child prostitute and a story about training for people who work with exploited children. WABE and PBA television will broadcast a documentary called How to Stop the Candy Shop on January 30.