When most Americans hear the words “sex trafficking,” we think oversees. We have all heard of sex trafficking issues in countries like Thailand, Africa, and Eastern Europe, and our hearts go out to those people. When we hear stories about American children being trafficked right here in United States, we are incredulous. No one believes that type of thing goes on in American. But the truth is that approximately 250,000 children are trafficked inside of the United States each year.
To understand human trafficking in the United States, you have to let go of the idea that commercial sex exploitation of children only happens in poor nations. You have to let go of what you have seen or heard on television, and its portrayal of the joys of street prostitution. You have to open up your eyes and understand that some aspects of street prostitution are actually human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children.
Ecpact USA states that the average age of entry into street prostitution is between 12 and 14 years. There have been cases of girls as young as 10 years old being forced into the trade. Under federal law, a child under 18 years old is considered a victim in a child trafficking situation. However, at the local level, adolescents are charged with child prostitution. We blame vulnerable children for being manipulated and preyed upon by adults.
Pimps prey on women and children by finding out their weakness and attacking it. It’s easier to manipulate children, because by the time the victims become adults they are dependent on a pimp. After the pimp gets control of a victim’s mind, it’s easy for him to maintain control. Women and children are required to bring home between $500 and $2,000 every night, as are the others in his “stable.” The pimp will remind a victim daily that they are not a “woman” but a “bitch” or a “ho.”
If the women or children do not want to follow the rules or try to escape, the pimp may sell them at any time to another pimp. The pimp game is not anything like the drug game because it’s not territorial. With drugs, you buy and sell it once; but with people, you can buy and sell them over and over again. This is why pimps move victims around from city to city and state to state so they do not have anyone to run to. That way, they can keep making money off of victims.
In the dictionary, the definition of slavery is the “state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household.” If someone sells you to someone else, is that not slavery? If someone forces you to do things against your will and you are not allowed to leave, is that not slavery? Then I ask you why, when the word pimp is added into the mix, we as Americans do not consider this as slavery?
Pimps have a great marketing tool: the media. You can turn on the TV now and see pimps glamorized through TV shows, music videos and movies. Now the term “pimp” is so commercialized, we as Americans do nothing while it becomes part of our socially acceptable vocabulary. Children and teens use the word in everyday conversation: “my ride is pimped out” or “your clothes are pimping.” We do not understand the harsh reality behind that term, and are unconsciously further imprinting the rape culture as normal.
I understand the real meaning behind the word pimp and the suffering these women, boys and girls go through because I am myself a survivor. But in order to fight sex trafficking we need to educate people about the sex trafficking situation in America – and what really happens when too many people look the other way. Join the fight to stop the sex trafficking of women and children.
On October 22, the Kintera’s Organization is sponsoring the DC Stop Modern Slavery Walk. You can join the walk or make a general donation.
On October 30, Tina Frundt will go undercover with Lisa Ling the show “Our America” to investigate the sex trafficking situation in Washington DC. The show airs on the OWN network from 10pm-11pm EST.
On November 19, Courtney’s House will be one of the beneficiaries of the 2011 Capitol City Ball. Please see the Capitol City Ball event details to learn more.
Tina Frundt is the Executive Director and founder of Courtney’s House, a DC non-profit that rescues children from being sex trafficked. At the age of 13, Ms. Frundt was recruited by a child abuser and pedophile, and then forced into the sex industry to be prostituted. A survivor and advocate, Ms. Frundt is a recognized expert on the subject of child sex trafficking and in 2010 was awarded the Frederick Douglas award. Photo from Florida Criminal Attorney’s Blog.