Why Sex Trafficking Laws Don’t Work

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Today’s news reported that a 25-year old St. Paul man was charged with trafficking at least three teenage girls over the last 18 months. Stories like this lead the public to believe that we’re winning the war against the sexual exploitation of children. Except we’re not.

The typical prostituted girl is coerced into submitting to sex with an average of five adult men a day. All old enough to be their fathers and grandfathers. When you do the math, a horrifying picture of massive child sexual abuse emerges: 18 months captivity x 30 days a month x 3 girls (that we know of) x 5 men (“customers”) per day. During the eighteen months Dontre Henry kept the teens under his control, over 1,800 adult men raped  these children. Then walked away scott free. Free to sexually assault other girls under the control of other traffickers.

The average age of recruitment into prostitution is between twelve and fourteen, although girls as young as nine have been rescued from Traffickers. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that there are 100,000 children coerced into prostitution in the United States. A recent study, estimates that 15-20% of American men have bought sex from a prostitute at least once (National Institute of Justice,  2008).  Although there are no reliable statistics on the number of men using children trapped in the sex industry,  simple math suggests that there are as many  half a million men from every walk of life who are buying children for sex.

Although these three girls were rescued from their pimp and another Trafficker has been taken off the streets, current trafficking statutes are  inadequate to stem the flow of children being bought and sold for sex. Prostitution is a demand driven market. Unless and until, enforcement efforts are fully implemented against the customer, men will continue to sexually assault and rape children with impunity and traffickers will happily  provide them for a price.

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