Monday, January 24, 2011

CNN's Selling The Girl Next Door


CNN presented a report on sex-trafficking of domestic girls in the US last night. The reporter, Amber Lyon, shares her “ coast-to-coast journey – from Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee and Nevada – trailing runaways, finding their families, meeting sex workers, and visiting a ‘Johns’ school’ where convicted solicitors are forced to face the social and criminal consequences of their actions” (NewsonNews). Amber speaks to one girl, who ran away from home and was picked up by a trafficker in the surrounding suburbs of Las Vegas. She was prostituted and was caught by police and put into jail, which is the only safe place that that the government can keep her. The judge, William Voy, faced with the girl’s case decided that the jail was the only place that would keep her from going back into prostitution; his choice was not a choice, since there is no alternative for sex-trafficking victims. CNN reports, “for five years, Voy has been trying to change that in his city by building a specialized residential home for the hundreds of girls who go through his court every year.
"It's not a detention center, it's not an institution," says Voy, showing us architectural drawings on a vacant lot where the house would be built. "It looks like another wealthy homeowner in Vegas, right? And that's what we want it to look like. These kids are messed up in a lot of different ways. And they need a lot of help."

He has private donors willing to pay for the building and the land, but Clark County has so far refused to come up with the $750,000 needed to staff the place with uniformed officers.” It’s a shame that the government will not pay for this amount of money; however, there is hope that with the new bill sitting on the Senate’s desk, The Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, could come along financing for ventures like this. There is another act that was passed in 2000, Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which provided aftercare funding but the money has only been used for foreign victims, not domestic. I just read that US government gave Haiti an additional $4.75 million to fight human trafficking in Haiti*; however, they can not use the money to help US citizens.



One of the main driving points through the report was the reprehensible actions of Backpage.com, which is owned by Village Voice Media. Backpage says that girls under the “escort” section are selling sex. Amber says this statement to a man in the John School that was caught buying a girl from backpage.com and he laughs. Amber makes the statement that “Backpage is normalizing the buying of a girl” by allowing you to go to one place to buy a TV, a couch, and a girl. There is a huge underage population of girls sold on Backpage.com. The ad will be banned if it says any age under the age of 18, but there are code words that pimps use to draw a picture of a young child: young, fresh, innocent. Pimps are utilizing this online space and are posting theses ads to sell the girls they are exploiting. Backpage had a ONE MILLION dollar increase after Craigslist’s adult services were shut down. It is obvious that the demand for sex and underage girls simply moved from Craigslist list to Backpage. Backpage’s revenue from their escort section is estimated to be $20 million, from their $5 charge per ad. It has been called the “Walmart of Child Sex Trafficking.”

Other important details from the report were

• The 13 year old girl sold on backpage charged $300/hour and $150 half /hour. She received none of this money.
• Amber asked one of the men in the John Camp how long it took from when her found a girl online to meeting up with her. He said it was 30 minutes, in which Amber replied “so you can get a girl faster than you can get a pizza.”

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