Portland: Being prostituted at 13 is a common story

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Portland: Being prostituted at 13 is a common story

Postby sam » Fri Jan 08, 2010 4:45 pm

Being prostituted at 13 is a common story
http://www.oregonlive.com/hovde/index.s ... tml#_login
By Elizabeth Hovde, Oregonian columnist
January 07, 2010

Today's Oregonian story, "Stop turns up prostituted girl," about a 14-year-old girl found prostituting in Beaverton, is the kind of story we might be reading more and more often. That's good and bad.

While the average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is growing increasingly younger with adults forcing girls into the life, hooking them on drugs and making them emotionally dependent on them, our awareness of the domestic sex trafficking problem right under our noses is growing, too. And what's worse than stories about these girls being found is no news about them at all, because these girls are out there and they need our help.

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 and that 100,000 to 300,000 children in our country are at risk for commercial sex exploitation at any time. The problem is shockingly large and reading stories about young girls forced into prostitution can leave a person feeling helpless.

The good news is that there are numerous nonprofits, governments, law enforcers and lawmakers with a fire in their belly to fight this tragic problem. My column this Sunday lists many of the actions that lawmakers and nonprofits are taking to eradicate sex trafficking in our country and abroad. I've talked to a lot of those hardworking folks, and pimps and johns ought to be worried. Read it Sunday in your paper or at www.oregonlive.com/hovde.

As for what the average, outraged person can do?

-- Donate to one of the many groups working to increase awareness and find safe shelter for victims of the commercial sex trade.

-- Demand that law enforcers arrest the men who pay for sex every time they are caught. After all, without demand, there would be no supply. We should also insist on increased monetary penalties for johns so they can help pay for victims' recovery needs.

-- Urge legal changes to ensure girls caught prostituting are cared for rather than criminalized.

-- Make people aware that prostitution is not a victimless crime, especially when girls are being lured or forced into the life when they should be playing after-school sports.

-- Finally, volunteer to be a mentor to at-risk youth in your community. Girls in our region need more role models and larger support systems to resist the pimps, often posing as boyfriends, who take them under their wing before they destroy their lives.
"Your orgasm can no longer dictate my oppression"

Trisha Baptie
sam
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