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Human Trafficking: Why should we care?

The current discussion about prostitution in the Dominican Republic and a U.S. Elected official brings into light the focus of legal prostitution, child prostitutes, and a convergence of power and money with extreme poverty and marginalization on a global scale.

If prostitution is legal in the DR, should elected officials and their donors benefit? Is there ever an equitable way that a business transaction for sex can be executed? A young girl (by reports 16-18 years old) transacting for sex with in an impoverished country by negotiating a business transaction with an American whose power exceeds hers just by status and social position? It is a fairy tale to entertain such a social myth. If reports are true she did not even get the amount negotiated for and will most likely be punished for returning without the money promised.

Examples of Child Prostitution

A similar example is with the Eliot Spitzer case- a governor of New York and a young woman who had been a runaway, even though she was an adult at the time, it is reported that she was a runaway just a few years before at age 17. Then, there is the more recent case of former NFL player Lawrence Taylor who admitted to procuring a 16-year-old for sex. He was given the extremely generous opportunity to plead guilty to a misdemeanor and even prevailed when the victim filed a civil suit against him. Exactly in what area of law is “I thought she was an adult” a defense? A 40 something year old man should not fail that test.

What is wrong with us? Does capitalism mean that anything is for sale and that we pray to the money god? Perhaps so in Houston- A 13-year-old was arrested for prostitution and prosecuted all the way to the Texas Supreme Court. Also, the Houston Mayor responded to a request from a non-profit asking her to focus on arresting buyers of child sex trafficked victims. The mayor’s response was that instead of arresting buyers, we should focus on the landlords who are renting to the traffickers. Yet, since this letter written on Dec 11, 2011 there has been a settlement with a strip club, their attorneys are pleased with the settlement. Certainly not much protection for sex trafficked children in Houston.

If someone pays for sex with a child or enslaved person, is it then not rape? Is prostitution not illegal in almost every county in the US? I read the laws and they are very clear, however, when reviewing legal outcomes and national discourse I do not see the culture matching the law, I most often see the victims arrested, blamed, punished and prosecuted; and the traffickers, buyers, and financial beneficiaries protected, settled with, not investigated and even supported by local government officials. Should we not react with the same zeal we did to  the Sandy Hook incident? Should we not run to aid, protect, and prevent more harm to the victims/children and their families?

Growth of Human Trafficking

This crime is growing so fast that the traffickers are now targeting non marginalised victims – U.S. citizens aged 13-26 seem to be increasing. These kids are straight A students, achievers, surrounded by good social ties. WAKE UP! These are not just titillating cases of indiscretion, this is a war on children, on families, and on society, locally and globally.We need to treat each of these cases as the most serious and not find ways to blame the victim or excuse the purchaser. I was recently in a meeting with a U.S. county attorney – when we discussed prosecuting the buyers he actually said “ that would ruin their lives and they most likely do not have a criminal record.” I was shocked— YES when you buy sex it is a criminal act in all but 11 counties in the U.S. – when you buy sex from children it is always criminal.  In Texas, sexual assault of a child can get you 99 years. (unless you pay for it- then the law is ignored and you get to go home to your wife and kids.)PLEASE let’s put away the fairy tale myths and address this as adults-  who are protecting children- all the children, no matter whose they are. Without buyers, the traffickers will move on to other crimes.  The buyers are the problem, they are criminal actors and they are hurting many.

 

 Human Trafficking: Why should we care?

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