When I was young, my parents kept foster children. One time we had a 14-year-old girl I’ll call Pamela. A bleached blond, she batted her long false eyelashes at any man she passed and smiled seductively with her deep red lips. She came to us classified as a child prostitute, in the “business” since she was 10. A juvenile offender, only released from Juvenile Hall because it was so overcrowded. Pamela, just 2 years into her teenhood, was already ensnared in the criminal justice system.
My dad was furious. “Her mother should be the one in prison! And how about the man she was found with? Why isn’t he serving time?”
Well, if Ron Wyden, D-Ore, has his way, things will change. My 93-year-old dad just may live to see the day when current day Pamelas are considered victims of abuse rather than criminals. To do otherwise, Wyden says, “Is just wrong. It defies common sense.”
Asia Graves, a Maryland-based advocate for sexually exploited girls, understands the problem all too well. Kicked out of her home at 16—during a Boston snowstorm, no less!—she was taken in by a kindly man. But after a week, he informed her he was a pimp, and that she was now his property.
“There is no such thing as a child prostitute,” Asia insists. “Because legally a child cannot consent to be sold. No girl chooses to be a sex slave.”
Girls alone. With no home. Longing for comfort. Desperate for a place to stay. Girls like Asia. And Pamela.
It doesn’t take long for pimps to find them.
“Girls like me are the face of the modern day slavery in America.”