Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher are taking on the sexual trafficking of children—99% are girls—in a hip ad campaign, featuring celebrities, including Sean Penn and Bradley Cooper.
Child sex trafficking is a crime that couldn’t exist without the buyers, the “Johns” who put their money down and don’t look closely at the girl and ask: Is she old enough to be doing this? Is she selling her body because she wants to do so—or will she be beaten or tortured by her pimp if she doesn’t?
The most famous offender of late may be L.T., former Giants football great Lawrence Taylor, convicted of having sex with a sixteen year-old girl and sentenced only to probation after he pleaded guilty of “sexual misconduct.” (He, of course, used the almost always effective “I didn’t know she was underage” defense.) The average John is an Everyman with no criminal record, thirty years old and married. Odds are that many have already fathered little girls. Maybe they have wives or girlfriends who would re-evaluate the relationship if they knew what their men are doing. For the John and the pimp, however, sex trafficking is low risk. They are less likely than the famous Taylor to even end up on probation, let alone in jail. According to Moore, one young woman recently told her that she was arrested (while underage) fifty times. Her pimp was not arrested once. Nor were the Johns detained. Nor did the cops or the courts think to involve social services in protection of a minor. In addition to being a huge injustice, criminalizing the girls stigmatizes them, serving to keep them in prostitution after they are eighteen.
When the crime is sexual in nature, society blames the victim, no matter her age. Child sex trafficking couldn’t thrive without the people who apply the labels “slut” and “whore” to children. Maybe you read about the controversy surrounding The New York Times initial reporting on the gang rape of an eleven year-old Texas girl over a period of months. The reporter quoted members of the community who blamed the child for “looking older” and “dressing provocatively and wearing make-up”, staying out late in the company of older boys and young men. Where were her parents? Why didn’t the adults who saw her engaging in risky behavior go to her parents and/or to authorities? Obviously, many adults knew she was in trouble, but none stepped forward to help her. The Times seemed to come down initially on the side of condemnation. In subsequent reports, they mitigated their tone and finally told us the males were all African-American, some with criminal records, and the girl was Hispanic, in an area where many Hispanics are illegal aliens, badly treated.
In no way can an eleven year-old ever consent to sex. Where was the outrage?
At a conservative estimate, 100,000 children, mostly girls, are child sex slaves in this country today. Like their global counterparts, their average age on entering slavery is thirteen. They are disproportionately Eastern Asian, Hispanic and African American—but there are some white girls in the mix. The spectre of the blonde, blue-eyed child, kidnapped and sexually abused, tears at the heart of the American fabric. It is our greatest fear. Where is the outrage for America’s darker-skinned girls?
In an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN, Moore and Kutcher, promoted their ad campaign and their foundation. They are visibly outraged about child sex trafficking. The King and Queen of Twitter, they use the social web—where 76% of child sex transactions are made—to encourage citizen policing.
Who are these kids?
Nicole, 17, heard but not seen, told Piers Morgan, that she was fourteen when she became a sex slave. Her father was often in prison, her mother on drugs—and she [“a little lost girl seeking a place of belonging," Moore said] went online searching for love. The pimp lied about his age and everything else. She met him at a mall. He said he wanted to take her out of her bad environment and provide for her. For three days, he bought her presents and lavishly complimented her. When she was won over, he turned, beating her and demanding that she service him and other men.
“It’s the same story over and over again,” Moore and Kutcher told Morgan.
Another guest, Siddharh Kara, author of “Sex Trafficking” agreed. He has gone into brothels, massage parlors, apartments, houses and clubs around the world where girls are sold—and tells their stories. Kara said that sex trafficking profits will exceed $39 billion globally this year, with each girl representing $29,000 in profits for her pimp on a typical $2,000 investment. The girls are given a quota and are beaten or tortured if they don’t make it.
“We can all agree that the trafficker, the pimp, the slave-holder is not a good person, right?” Kutcher asks. “But he wouldn’t make money if other guys didn’t pay for sex with this girl. Any one of the guys could have stopped it.”
Any one of the guys could have stopped that gang rape in Texas.
Every one of us can make a difference. Pass this post along. Raise the public awareness. View the clips from Morgan's interview with Moore and Kutcher. Check out the Moore-Kutcher website and The National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s Polaris Project. Finally, don’t let your little girls call others girls “sluts”, “whores” or “hos.”
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