Boston Globe: “New laws treat teen prostitutes as abuse victims”

The 4/18/09 Boston Globe reports on a welcome change of attitude towards prostituted girls:

By the time she was 8, Amanda had been sexually abused by her father’s friend for four years. At 12, she was peddling crack. At 14, she was selling sex on the sidewalk.

Her pimp beat her weekly to keep her working, stitching up her wounds himself to avoid questions at a hospital. Her average earnings of $600 for a 13-hour day of turning tricks bought him a car…

The fact that Amanda was rescued instead of arrested reflects not only a stroke of luck but a decidedly different take on tackling the juvenile sex trade. Courts and law enforcement are increasingly treating young prostitutes as child abuse victims — and their pimps as human traffickers…

Rescuing the girls is an important part of the equation. In most cases, they’re troubled, often sexually abused, lured into prostitution by “boyfriends” who shower them with the loving attention they lack at home. Gifts and outings, though, turn into violence and emotional manipulation.

That was the case with Samantha, a 15-year-old from Orange County and now at Children of the Night [a residential program in suburban Los Angeles that rehabilitates prostituted teens].

The boyfriend took her to Arizona, made her pose for photos in lingerie and have sex with men who responded to Craigslist ads.

“I complained a lot so he gave me drugs,” she said…

The next step is to extend support to all prostituted women, as is being done in Sweden and Norway.

See also:

News Roundup: Age of Entry into Prostitution Declining

“Consenting Adults”
proclaims one of the ads above [from the 6/12/08 Valley Advocate]. An odd phrase to apply to a legitimate
massage service, but perfectly understandable for a commercial sex
business. Smokescreen phrases like these are often employed by defenders of prostitution in attempts to stifle debate. They are not convincing. Studies that show a majority of prostituted women want out, and claims that only “adults” are involved are ever more questionable.

Young Lives for Sale

Why more kids are getting into the sex trade–and how the feds are fighting back

By Bay Fang

U.S. News and World Report


Thousands of young girls and boys are falling victim to violent
pimps, who move them from state to state, which makes it a federal
matter. The younger they are, the more they’re worth on the street. “There is a greater and greater demand for younger and younger kids,”
says Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children. “America doesn’t look. People are shocked and
horrified when they hear these girls’ stories. They say, ‘That doesn’t
happen here. It happens in Thailand. Or the Philippines.’ But once you
start shining a light on it, you find it everywhere.”

On the “strolls” of Sunset Boulevard and Figueroa, in South-Central
Los Angeles, girls step out from the shadows in tiny skirts and
stiletto heels. Detective Keith Haight sizes them up. He doesn’t bother
stopping unless they look underage, but it’s hard to tell nowadays. Haight
has been working these streets for 25 years and has seen the girls
getting younger. This drop in age is due both to the rise of the
Internet, which provides ready access to child pornography, and to the
fear of HIV/AIDS. “Back then, if you found a 15- or 16-year-old, that
was a big deal. But now, they’re 11 or 12,” he says.

“The average life expectancy of a child after getting into
prostitution,” says Johnson, citing homicide or HIV/AIDS as the main
causes of death, “is seven years.” Tom O’Brien, the criminal division
chief of the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office, describes a
conversation he had with one 14-year-old prostitute who was testifying
against her pimp. “I told her, ‘When I was your age, I thought I’d live
forever.’ She looked me in the eye and said, ‘Mr. O’Brien, I’ll be dead
before I’m 21.'”

Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations
recently as 1991, police in a southern California community closed all
rape reports made by prostitutes and addicts, placing them in a file
stamped “NHI.” The letters stand for the words “No Human Involved.”
(Linda Fairstein, Sexual Violence: Our War Against Rape, 1993, New York, William Morrow.)…

average age of entry into prostitution is 13 years (M.H. Silbert and
A.M. Pines, 1982, “Victimization of street prostitutes, Victimology: An
International Journal, 7: 122-133) or 14 years (D.Kelly Weisberg, 1985,
Children of the Night: A Study of Adolescent Prostitution, Lexington,
Mass, Toronto). Most of these 13 or 14 year old girls were recruited or
coerced into prostitution. Others were “traditional wives” without job
skills who escaped from or were abandoned by abusive husbands and went
into prostitution to support themselves and their children. (Denise
Gamache and Evelina Giobbe, Prostitution: Oppression Disguised as
Liberation, National Coalition against Domestic Violence, 1990)…

of the prevalence of incest among prostitutes range from 65% to 90%.
The Council for Prostitution Alternatives, Portland, Oregon Annual
Report in 1991 stated that: 85% of prostitute/clients reported history
of sexual abuse in childhood; 70% reported incest. The higher
percentages (80%-90%) of reports of incest and childhood sexual
assaults of prostitutes come from anecdotal reports and from clinicians
working with prostitutes (interviews with Nevada psychologists cited by
Patricia Murphy, Making the Connections: women, work, and abuse, 1993,
Paul M. Deutsch Press, Orlando, Florida; see also Rita Belton,
“Prostitution as Traumatic Reenactment,” 1992, International Society
for Traumatic Stress Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA M.H. Silbert and
A.M. Pines, 1982, “Victimization of street prostitutes,” Victimology:
An International Journal, 7: 122-133; C. Bagley and L Young, 1987,
“Juvenile Prostitution and child sexual abuse: a controlled study,”
Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, Vol 6: 5-26…

target girls or women who seem naive, lonely, homeless, and rebellious.
At first, the attention and feigned affection from the pimp convinces
her to “be his woman.” Pimps ultimately keep prostituted women in
virtual captivity by verbal abuse – making a woman feel that she is
utterly worthless: a toilet, a piece of trash; and by physical coercion
– beatings and the threat of torture. 80% to 95% of all prostitution is
pimp-controlled. (Kathleen Barry, The Prostitution of Sexuality, 1995, New York, New York University Press)…

62% reported having been raped in prostitution.
73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution.
72% were currently or formerly homeless.
92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.
Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, “Prostitution in Five
Countries: Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder” (1998) Feminism
& Psychology 8 (4): 405-426…

A Canadian
Report on Prostitution and Pornography concluded that girls and women
in prostitution have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national
average. (Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution, 1985,
Pornography and Prostitution in Canada 350.)

Child Prostitution: The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children
by country reports focused on CSEC, commercial sexual exploitation of
children, teenage and underage prostitution, forced prostitution, and
sex with children in general.

New York Times: “The Girls Next Door”; Worldwide Sex Trafficking; Role of

If anything, the women I talked to said that the sex in the U.S. is
even rougher than what the girls face on Calle Santo Tomas. Rosario, a
woman I met in Mexico City, who had been trafficked to New York and
held captive for a number of years, said: ”In America we had ‘special
jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more
adventurous, harder.” She said that she believed younger foreign girls
were in demand in the U.S. because of an increased appetite for more
aggressive, dangerous sex. Traffickers need younger and younger girls,
she suggested, simply because they are more pliable. In Eastern Europe,
too, the typical age of sex-trafficking victims is plummeting;
according to Matei of Reaching Out, while most girls used to be in
their late teens and 20’s, 13-year-olds are now far from unusual.

Salon: Atlanta’s underage sex trade
problem isn’t restricted to so-called Hotlanta; Herbert notes,
dispiritedly, that “the overall market for sex with kids is booming in
many parts of the U.S.” But the city’s role as a convention and travel
hub has given it a particular boost. And advocates say that the
prevailing preference for ever-younger prostitutes — fueled by “the
cultural emphasis on the sexual appeal of very young women and girls”
and “the widely held belief among johns that there is less risk of
contracting a disease from younger prostitutes” — has pimps and sex
traffickers recruiting more at-risk kids than ever before.

Gloria Steinem at Smith: Cooperation, Not Domination
are more slaves in proportion to the world’s population–more people
held by force or coercion without benefit from their work–more now
than there were in the 1800s. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking,
children and adults forced into armies: they all add up to a global
human-trafficking industry that is more profitable than the arms trade,
and second only to the drug trade. The big difference now from the
1800s is that the United Nations estimates that 80% of those who are
enslaved are women and children…

Realities of Teen Prostitution Mock Notions of ‘Sex
Work’, ‘Sex-Positive’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Empowerment’; Media Glamorizes Pimps

…authorities know that child prostitutes are subjected to constant
sexual abuse. Yet public opinion often paints these girls as criminals.
The first step towards ending the misery for the exploited is to
recognize them for what they are: victims.

…an estimated 80 to 95 percent of child prostitutes have a history of sexual abuse…

Escort Prostitution: A Response to Tom Vannah, Editor of the Valley

Mr. Vannah concedes that “there is some percentage of people who are
not willing participants in the sex industry”, but believes that if the
Advocate refuses to accept Massage/Escort ads, this will unacceptably
crimp “artistic freedom”. He mentions Mapplethorpe pictures as an
example. How dropping ads for commercial sex enterprises will
compel the Advocate to turn away Mapplethorpe pictures is not clear to

The Village Voice Earns $80,000/Month from Prostitution, Sex Trafficking and other Adult Ads (explicit language)
[Manny, a former pimp,] says it’s not difficult for a pimp to recruit his harem.

“You don’t have to tie a girl up — you just keep her high.”

looks Vanessa over and observes that the more decrepit a hooker looks,
the more they get picked up. Johns see vulnerability; they see a
weakness, they see a five-dollar blow job…

Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

A Closer Look at Sweden’s Success with Reducing Prostitution; Skeptics Rebutted

Abolishing Prostitution: The Swedish Solution – An Interview with Gunilla Ekberg by the Rain and Thunder Collective