Most people assume that human sex trafficking is only a problem in other countries- third world nations and places you’ve never heard of, or can’t pronounce. However, the reality is that every day in Los Angeles County, children—mostly African American and Latinos—are sold into modern day slavery by boyfriends, gang members, and sexual predators in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
Every day, at-risk children are exploited and abused as part of a billion dollar industry, only to be left homeless, defenseless, and terrified- if they survive at all.
Why Is This Issue Ignored?
The problem is so grossly overlooked because it is not recognized as a problem by the individuals who have the greatest influence in these children’s lives. Parents, schools, foster care, group homes, healthcare establishments, and youth programs in neighborhoods where the problem is the greatest need to be educated about human trafficking.
Part of the miscommunication lies in the terminology. When terms like prostitution and pimp are used in lieu of trafficking and trafficker, a greater understanding takes place. Additionally, local business owners assume that these young girls have made the conscious decision to sell themselves on the streets. This way of thinking makes the child out to be the criminal instead of the victim, allowing the traffickers and buyers to strip the children of their rights as human beings. The truth is, legally, there is no such thing as a child prostitute because they have not reached the age of majority and therefore cannot consent to sex.
According to the District Attorney’s office, 120 minors are sold for sex each year in Los Angeles County. It is safe to assume the actual number is significantly higher due to the difficulty in discerning traffickers and victims. Many children are relocated by their traffickers and even more are advertised as adult escorts to disguise their ages.
On a national level, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 300,000 minors are at risk of being trafficked and 30,000 die annually. Eighty percent of these young people are under the age of 24, with some being as young as 6. Those who are lucky enough to survive their ordeal will no doubt face post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, forced abortion, disease, and physical scarring from branding.
Legislation such as the S.140 Combat Human Trafficking Bill, helps to bring public awareness to this vastly-underestimated social ill. It lays out an agenda clearly and facilitates community involvement in the search for a solution.
Now, prosecutors and law enforcement officials are cracking down on johns in the community. This means more sting operations and a greater likelihood of being arrested for soliciting a prostitute – even if you are innocent.
If you are facing allegations of soliciting a prostitute in East Bay, seek the help of an experienced Oakland sex crime lawyer now! Call the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today for a free initial consultation.