Sunday, July 20, 2008

Girls in prostitution (by Suzie)


         This post is the last in this weekend's trilogy on which girls deserve protection from predation. Through the current Carnival Against Sexual Violence, I learned about the documentary "Very Young Girls."
A man who has sex with an underage girl should be prosecuted as a criminal rapist. But there is a loophole: if the child accepts money in exchange for sex, the rapist is now a "john" and rarely is subjected to greater punishment than a fine. For the very same act, the girl is often prosecuted as a prostitute and sent into detention. The average age of entry into prostitution today in the United States is 13 years old.
         Thirteen? Really? Here’s one source, with more information.
         In June, the FBI arrested pimps in a nationwide network of child trafficking. Once again, there's talk of protecting innocence. Here’s more from the FBI in 2005, including congressional testimony.
Juveniles who become involved in sexual trafficking face a myriad of obstacles and enormous needs if they want to leave that life, including very basic needs such as safe housing, subsistence, and schooling. In addition, they may need drug treatment, medical treatment, and mental health services. They may have problems related to victimization prior to their life on the streets. Most cannot return to their family of origin, so they need help to prepare for independent living.
          Some feminists want prostitution treated like other work. In that case, I'd note that we have labor laws restricting work by children.