In December 2015, D. Parvaz published “Selling American Girls,” a seven-part investigative report for Al Jazeera America that documented sex trafficking in the US. Each part of her report examined a different role in the sex trafficking trade and its enforcement, from the prostitutes and their buyers, pimps, and advocates, to law enforcement officers and judges.
Many pimps look for children who come from unstable family backgrounds or destitute neighborhoods. According to FAIR Girls, an antitrafficking organization, 70–75 percent of the girls they assisted had histories with foster care systems. Special Agent Renea Green of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation told Al Jazeera America, “We had a trafficker tell us he looked for victims, for girls, walking from the local DFAC [Department of Family and Children Services] office.”
Correct those who use terms such as “child prostitute” or “juvenile prostitute.” Challenge language and images that glorify pimp culture. Recognize that all immigrants are not undocumented and that all victims are entitled to protection under the law.
Maphet was just one of thousands of children in Oklahoma who wanted to be loved. Countless others today are wandering the streets, looking for love, vulnerable to drug dealers and pimps.
“Human trafficking” and “trafficking in persons” are terms commonly used to describe a form of modern-day slavery wherein victims are forced or otherwise coerced into labor or sex both across and within state and international borders.The number of trafficking victims around the world is a topic of debate, with recent estimates ranging from 12 million to 27 million victims worldwide.
If the act of prostitution involves adults, the john/buyer, and any third-party (e.g. a “pimp” or “madam”) are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The charge usually results in a fine and/or unsupervised probation. If the subject spends any time in jail prior to the court date, they’re usually sentenced to time served. The human trafficking charge, however, makes it much more serious for the pimp or madam as they would now be charged with the felony of human trafficking. There is not currently a felony charge for the Johns who engage in prostitution with a trafficked victim, unless that victim is a minor.
Sex trafficking in the US has been a focus of corporate news coverage, but tend to focus primarily on the prostitutes and their pimps, while neglecting other important issues raised in the Al Jazeera America report, such as the prosecution of buyers and the criminal penalties that girls and young women often face. Most news coverage is from local news outlets, which tend to report specific instances of sex trafficking, rather than discussing the topic in a broader social context.
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It is estimated that 1.5 million kids run away from home in the United States every year. One million of them are girls. When a girl runs away from home, she is usually sexually propositioned within 24 hours to trade sex for food and shelter. Seventy two percent of runaway girls admit to survival sex outside the home. Thirteen is the average age for a runaway girl to get her first pimp. All victims end up self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, and will often cut themselves in an attempt to manage their emotional pain.