Children are really cute when they pretend to be adults. You know, when the boys put on dad’s tie and hat and sunglasses, or when the girls put on their mother’s high heel shoes and lipstick and hats. How adorable they look. It can be a good and positive thing when children pretend.
I recently saw a film in which a young girl about twelve was trying to walk in high heels. Just like most kids, she didn’t walk so well in the stilettos. But It wasn’t cute, or good. She wasn’t playing pretend. She was walking down a dark street around 4 a.m., with her pimp following her in a car trying to make himself rich by offering her up to whosoever would come. I’m sure her life was a horror. The people filming her tried to reach her, but her pimp saw them and pulled her into the car. They got the license plate number, though.
There is no such thing as a child prostitute. There are only abused children who are themselves sex crime victims.
The film was shown at Asbury United Methodist Church here in DC, by Courtney’s House, a group that fights against the horror and enslavement of children by sex traffickers. It’s headed by Tina Fundt, herself once a teenage victim of a sex slaver, now the heroine for many young children she’s reaching through her program here in DC. The reason the meeting was at Asbury is because their location is a high sex traffic area. We don’t see it because we’re not up that time of night. And because we don’t see it taking place, it’s really easy for us to simply to ignore it.
But it becomes difficult to ignore when we become informed. Did you know that the average age of people entering the sex trade is 13? That’s the average age, meaning there are about as many younger than that as there are older. Pimps measure the worth of their victims by how many tricks they can pull in one night.
It is slavery. Children who are the most vulnerable for this form of enslavement are those who are homeless and poor, as well as children of all races and income levels who suffer low self-esteem. The hold that pimps have over their victims is extremely strong, horribly vicious, psychologically damaging and often fatal. They are brutal slavers, always looking to increase their stable of girls and boys to satisfy the vulgar desires of a sick group of people, the users.
Yet, here in America, they’ve become almost a cult. There are “pimp and hoes” parties, the tv show “pimp my ride,” and a movie, the American Pimp, all trying to make a fad out of the awfully horrifying sex trafficking of children.
Human trafficking has become the fastest growing and second largest criminal industry in the world. There are presently an estimated 27 million sex slaves around the world, including many within DC. It seems like the pimps must be smarter than the local police and the FBI, because they don’t seem able to do anything to stop the pimps.
Courtney’s House works closely with Stop Modern Slavery, another DC group working to bring attention to the horrors of forced prostitution. Bill and I went to see a film they showed last week, Nefarious, produced by a Christian group called Exodus Cry–another heart wrenching film about how women all over the world are forced into sex trafficking. What I learned from viewing the abuse and horror of this kind of slavery is that no prostitute chooses this kind of life. They are forced into it either by being tricked into it as a child, lured into it through an unhealthy relationship or coerced into it by people who claim to love them–then they stay in it because they don’t know how to do anything else and don’t believe they can do anything else. They come to believe it is their lot in life and accept it. They are mentally and physically slaves.
And too many in our society accept it, by doing what society so often does to the oppressed–they blame the victims–the slaves, the prostitutes–for their own situation. And because it does not take place in our sight, It’s easy to simply ignore it.
One of the two highest commandments that Jesus teaches is that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s the basis for the golden rule: We are to do for others as we would want them to do for us.
Think about how vulnerable and naive you were when you were 12 or 13 years old. Close your eyes and imagine that you are that 12 year old trying to walk in heels at 4 am, with a pimp ready to beat you horribly if you did not give your body willingly to whoever wanted it.
What you would want somebody to do for you? It’s time to stop this.
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