U.S. citizens condemn Middle Eastern countries for jailing rape victims but our justice system does that every day. Here, the average age a girl becomes a prostitute is 12-14, and the average age for boys is 11-13 (http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/ceos/prostitution.html). Child prostitutes are victims of statutory rape, yet a perversion of the law says that when a rapist pays money to rape a child the child becomes a criminal who can be arrested, prosecuted, humiliated by the justice system and imprisoned no matter how young they are. They have suffered enough; these children don’t deserve to be punished for being raped.
Strangely, anti-trafficking laws grant more protection to foreigners raped in the United States than to our own citizens. For example, if a 12-year-old Sudanese girl is trafficked into the United States and forced to work in a New Jersey brothel the law would not view her as a prostitute. They would classify her as a sex slave. The police would give her federal protection under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. In contrast, a 12-year-old U.S. citizen forced to work in the same brothel would be treated like a criminal, thrown in jail, probably fined and get a criminal record.
The documentary “Very Young Girls” about underage prostitutes in New York documents the case of an underage prostitute named Nicole who was jailed for being raped:
Nicole: “I got off the train cause the other train wasn’t working and I was walking. Some dude came up and said, “Well, I’ll give you a ride.” He was driving to Queens and I told him to stop. He wouldn’t stop. When he opened the door I was trying to run out but the pimp grabs me and he put me in the house. He says if I tell anyone he’s gonna get somebody to kill me.”
Natalie [Nicole’s lawyer]: “She said that she was with the pimp for four or five days. During the course of those four or five days she was forced to have sex with 30 men. The day that she was arrested she was 14. In any other situation she would be too young to consent to sex. To have her charged on prostitution charges is a little absurd.”
Nicoles’s mother: “She’s treated like a criminal after all the stuff that happened to her. Instead of them taking her to the hospital, they took her to the jailhouse.”
The reason our country punishes girls for being raped is the same reason Middle Eastern countries jail rape victims: because we live in a patriarchy that treats males as superior to females. The vast majority of child prostitutes are girls and most boy prostitutes are raped as girls. Femaleness is devalued so much society almost always takes the side of the rapist making it very easy for them to rape and escape punishment.
For example, the documentary shows a mother who posted flyers of her missing daughter and got a call providing a tip stating her daughter was being held captive as a sex slave yet when she reported this to a male NYPD officer he refused to send someone to investigate immediately:
LaSharon [mother]: This is a pimp and he has a bunch of underage girls in his apartment this girl told me anonymously, caller, they saw the flyer. She just called tonight. The girl said they’re armed and dangerous, they have guns there’s three of them.
police officer: They were in the apartment?
LaSharon: She said this is where they’re, where he’s keeping the girls at. That he got them in there. He locks them in the apartment, he beats them.
officer: What do you want me to do for you?
LaSharon: I need to speak to somebody because this is where somebody said where all the runaway girls are at…with my daughter at this apartment.
officer: We don’t have any authority to kick in the door.
LaSharon: This is where she said they are, here.
officer: We have to have a court order to kick in a door.
LaSharon: But how do we do that?
officer: Listen, let me explain something to you. We need a court order. At this point, four o’clock in the morning on a Saturday morning that’s the best I can do for you right now.
After the incident LaSharon expressed her shock:
This is ****in unbelievable. I feel like I’m in a ****ing dream and I need to wake up. Like this is a ****ing nightmare.
That sums up this issue. The horror is that we live in a society where police can get away with refusing to immediately investigate a child rape report. They go to people’s homes to investigate minor complaints such as a rock thrown through a window, but the NYPD wouldn’t send officers to stop someone from raping a child. The system is set up against rape victims and that’s the main reason rapists are almost never punished. It’s a nightmarish reality that our country actually prosecutes child rape victims every day. It is beyond horrible. However, LaSharon was able to find her daughter after several months of searching. Her daughter’s pimp was prosecuted which is unusual because pimps are almost never jailed.
Another disturbing part of the documentary was a scene of a roomful of convicted johns at the Brooklyn John School, a one day program for first offenders who get a clean record if they attend the lecture and avoid being convicted for the next 6 months. When a woman speaker told the johns that “the average age of a prostitute is 13 to 14 years old” and began describing a typical sting scenario where the police arrest the prostitute and john saying, “We gotcha. …And you know what? This little girl next to you, she’s already been locked up 30 times” suddenly a john raises his hand and asks, “How long before the break?” A lot of men thought it was really funny that he interrupted her talking about children being jailed 30 times for being raped. The room was full of loud laughter as I watched the sickening smiles of the sexual predators. That left no doubt that many of the predators had little or no remorse and would continue to rape knowing that society makes it easy for them to do it.
But although child prostitutes shouldn’t be jailed, they should be sent to a safe house for protection. Many child prostitutes return to prostitution after jail because they have nowhere to go, can’t get a job because they’re underage, are scared of their pimp and/or have a psychologically damaging attachment to their pimp and prostitution. In a July 29, 2008 article the Huffington Post reported:
“…according to a study conducted through the University of Pennsylvania, 75% of known child prostitutes work for pimps, who are adept at creating a pseudo-family environment by promising money, love and affection to children coming from dysfunctional homes who are seeking care and nourishment.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-w-whitehead/children-of-the-night-chi_b_115348.html?view=print
Unfortunately, there are few safe house programs for child prostitutes in the U.S. therefore, some people who want to help the rape victims escape resort to jailing them as a flawed option that is the only way to keep the children away from pimps and johns. The May 3rd, 2008 PBS episode “Fighting Child Prostitution” described this reasoning:
[Senior correspondent Maria] Hinojosa: “Sgt. Earnest Britton runs the Atlanta police department's Child Exploitation Unit. He and the few officers who work here are attempting to treat children caught up in prostitution as victims, not criminals. But, Britton says, cops are often forced to charge a child with a crime just to get her off the street.”
[Sgt. Earnest] Britton: “Now, what will normally happen is if we take them to a regular shelter, they just run out of that shelter. So that's another reason why some officers charge them with that charge, not because they wanna punish them, it's—there's no place we can place you. There's no one that will take you. And the detention center will only take you if we put this charge on.”
[Child advocate Alicia] Adams: “As a society you're going to tell me that the only way we can protect these children is to lock them up in jail.”
Britton: “The system is not adequately designed to deal with this type problem.”
Hinojosa: “What part of the system needs to change?”
Britton: “All of it.”
My solution to this problem is based on the core of the problem:
raper of children = criminal
child prostitute = victim
Therefore, the criminal should pay for the rehabilitation of the children. Punishment of criminals should be much more severe and they should pay steep fines for child prostitution safe houses and public education programs. This is my preliminary plan and I welcome suggestions to improve it:
Punish rapists and rehabilitate the victims
Change the law so that renting a prostitute aged 15 or younger is classified as a type of statutory rape. The minimum age of consent for sex with an adult should be 16. Eliminate jail sentences and fines for underage prostitution rape victims, however the law should have the authority to send victims to rehabilitation facilities.
No immunity for allegedly not knowing the prostitute’s age
Whether the rapist knew the prostitute was underage is irrelevant. The person paying for sex is responsible for knowing whether the prostitute is underage.
Dramatically increase police and FBI sting operations to prosecute criminals who rent underage prostitutes. Many police resources used to arrest prostitutes will instead go toward arresting johns who rape children. It may be necessary to hire more police officers. They should have women officers posing as underage prostitutes, entrapment using fake underage online IDs, police posing as customers asking for underage prostitutes, etc.
Jail and fines for pedophile rapists
Mandatory jail time for pedophiles who have sex with child prostitutes. Fines are mandatory and will be docked from the rapist’s paycheck and/or government seizing of rapists’ property.
Rape of child prostitute under the age of 7:
Minimum 40 years imprisonment and mandatory chemical castration for 15 years upon release or option of surgical castration.
Fine of $100,000
Attempted rape of child prostitute under the age of 7:
Minimum 3 years imprisonment and mandatory chemical or optional surgical castration for 15 years.
Fine of $35,000
Rape of a child prostitute aged 7 to 12:
Minimum 25 years imprisonment or option of 10 years prison and 25 years chemical or surgical castration
Fine of $30,000
Attempted rape of child prostitute aged 7 to 12:
Minimum 1 year imprisonment and mandatory 10 years chemical or optional surgical castration.
Fine of $10,000
Rape of child prostitute aged 12-15:
Minimum 10 years imprisonment or option of 3 years prison and 10 years chemical or surgical castration
Fine of $15,000
Attempted rape of child prostitute aged 12-15:
Minimum 6 months imprisonment and mandatory 6 years chemical or optional surgical castration.
Fine of $6,000
Convicted pedophiles should be included in the sexual offender list available to the public. The law applies only to adults, aged 18 and older. Persons under the age of 18, if they are prosecuted at all for non-forcible statutory rape, should be prosecuted under the juvenile system.
Public Education Campaign
A national public safety education office should be set up and paid for by pedophiles convicted of renting underage prostitutes. The office will educate the public about the scope, severity and danger of child prostitution. They will distribute information to the press, place warnings in ad space on print, radio, TV and Internet media. Schools receiving state and federal assistance will be required to teach a workshop to warn children about child prostitution and inform them about safe houses where they can go for assistance if they are prostituted.
A national network of safe houses for underage prostitutes should be built and maintained at the expense of convicted pedophile johns. Prostitute rape victims should be sent to a safe house as soon as they are found to keep them away from pimps and to provide information to authorities to prosecute their rapists. Safe houses should enable children to complete their education, get psychological and career goals counseling and provide a family-like environment. Safe houses for male and female victims should be staffed and supervised by 90% females since the vast majority of pedophiles are men and that will help prevent sexual abuse of vulnerable wards. After an initial time at a safe house a prostitute should have the option to move in with family or live in a foster home but must stay in contact with the safe house until the age of 18.
If some people think these punishments are too harsh consider Britain’s recent child prostitution law change:
“Sex with a child under 13 will carry a life sentence, between the ages 13 and 15 may attract a maximum 14-year prison sentence, and seven years in cases when the child is 16 to 17. The law will regard the child involved in prostitution as a victim and they will not face charges.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2002/nov/19/ukcrime.childprotection/print
As a final note I believe that if women held 51% of the top government jobs, which is our proportion of the population, we would have a system that is much more compassionate towards child prostitutes and much more harsh against adults who rape them. Sexism is the main reason we have a system that favors child rapists instead of their innocent victims. Please contact your local representative to demand they change the federal and state child prostitution laws to stop punishing raped children and instead protect our children.