Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Selling American Girls: The Truth About Domestic Minor Sex-Trafficking - Forbes

Source: Forbes


Brooke AxtellBrooke Axtell, Contributor
The sex-trafficking of U.S. children is America’s dirty, little secret.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, human trafficking is the second fastest growing criminal industry — just behind drug trafficking. Approximately half of all victims are children.
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center estimates it’s a $32 billion industry, with about 50% of this revenue coming from industrialized countries. This surpasses the sale of illegal arms.
Sex-trafficking is essentially systemic rape for profit. Force, fraud and coercion are used to control the victim’s behavior, which may secure the appearance of consent to please the buyer (or John).Behind every transaction is violence or the threat of violence.
What happens to trafficked children in the U.S. when they are discovered by the police? Often they are arrested on prostitution charges, thrown into jail and treated like criminals, even though they are minors.
Instead of receiving counseling in a safe, supportive residential facility, many are forced to endure the additional trauma of juvenile detention. One reason for this is the lack of training to help law enforcement recognize and assist victims.
In 2008, New York was the first state to establish a Safe Harbor Law to decriminalize underage victims of sexual exploitation. Since then, 9 states have followed suit, but in the remaining states, children who are bought and sold for sex are still sent to jail.
Legally, they cannot consent to sex with an adult, so the use of the term “child prostitution” in the media is misleading. In any other context, this would be considered statutory rape.
Fewer than 100 shelter beds are available in the U.S.for sex-trafficking victims, and most facilities are not equipped to address their needs.
This is a staggering contrast to the FBI estimate that about 100,000 children are sold for sex in our nation.
How Does it Work?
Pimps often recruit children into sex-trafficking by posing as a boyfriend, caretaker and protector. Many girls are runaways from abusive or dysfunctional homes, some are kidnapped and others are exploited by someone they know. On average, the trafficking begins when the victim is 13.
At this time, the vast majority are sold through classified ads on websites. This has been the source of great controversy over Backpage. The Attorney General’s office documented that underage girls were sold through these ads in at least 22 states.
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