Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bob Herbert: Child Slavery Isn't Just An African Thing

Bob Herbert writes today about a 13-year old forced into prostitution by New York City cop, highlighting the real social ills of our world and condemning the mainstream media's wreckless irresponsibility about them. Like always, Herbert is a must-read that no one reads:

Our perspective is twisted. It was a big story when a television newsman was crude and thoughtless enough to use the term “pimped out” in a reference to Chelsea Clinton. The comment generated outrage — as it should have — and the newsman was suspended. But if someone actually pimps out a 13-year-old child, and even if that someone is alleged to be a police detective, it generates a collective yawn.

Across the country, young girls by the many thousands — children — are being drawn into the hellishly dangerous world of prostitution. They are raped, beaten and exploited in every way imaginable...

If no money is involved, the youngster is considered a victim. But if the man pays for the sex — even if the money is going to the pimp, which is so often the case — the child is considered a prostitute and thus subject in many venues to arrest and incarceration.

“We often see the girls arrested and the pimps and the johns go free,” said Carol Smolenski, the head of Ecpat-USA, a group that fights the sexual exploitation of children. “One of the big problems is that there is this whole set of child sex exploiters who are not targeted as exceptionally bad guys.”

What’s needed is a paradigm shift. Society (and thus law enforcement) needs to view any adult who sexually exploits a child as a villain, and the exploited child as a victim of that villainy. If a 35-year-old pimp puts a 16-year-old girl on the street and a 30-year-old john pays to have sex with her, how is it reasonable that the girl is most often the point in that triangle that is targeted by law enforcement?

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