“Tens of thousands of young girls are being forced into prostitution in the U.S…” according to Shared Hope International. (www.sharedhope.org) That’s the numbers I’m writing about and behind each digit is a little person with a withering soul who cries out to be free. At least a soul who is screaming deep down inside amidst the darkness. I am encouraged to read on this website about “Protected Innocence Initiative – State Action – National Change.” The numbers are what my finite mind can’t fathom, but the ache for freedom I partially understand as an American. The statistics, the numbers. Perhaps I have seen their young faces in passing at a Walmart checkout line, at truckstops, at gas stations or restaurants. Not too likely to see these unidentified “numbers” at the movies, plays or concerts I attend. I live a sheltered life.
A book written by Linda Smith and Cindy Coloma is titled “Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children (Call to Action).” I haven’t read it yet but the stories will be in that book of child prostitutes who are way below the age of consent. Stories we can embrace better than numbers. What I can’t get over is that these children should be embraced by loving parents and grandparents in their lives. Instead they are used and used over and over again. What I’ve read from a pamphlet of Shared Hope International is that 13 years old is the average age of children who are forced into prostitution. AVERAGE number! There is nothing average about this…it is substandard, inhumane. We as Americans treat our dogs and cats better than many of these children.
In fact, I just read on the website the individual report cards for each different state and what they do about prosecuting crimes, such as child pornography which feeds into child prostitution. Apparently according to this calculation on the website, Washington state gets a “B” rating as does Texas, Illinois and Missouri. That was a surprise. Whereas, North Dakota and South Dakota get “F” grades. Minnesota and Arizona comes out with “C” grades but even this is mind boggling. Look up the factsheets for yourself, the crime in North Dakota for “Hiring an individual to engage in sexual activity” is considered as a Classification Class B misdemeanor with 30 days max and fine $1,000 max. A misdemeanor???!!! That’s a very lame word and a low number for jail time and penalty!
Linda Smith who organized this SHI platform to fight child trafficking reportedly said the following: “We need to mourn the selling of innocents. And we need to, as believers, ask God to forgive us for our apathy and go out there and fight for these kids.” I agree with her. “The ready availability of internet pornography majoring in the exploitation of teenage girls has greatly fueled stateside demand over the past decade. Smith hopes to link pornography to sex trafficking in the minds of all men as a deterrent against beginning down a dangerous path…”
Smith also said: “The solution is to dry up demand. If there weren’t demand, there wouldn’t be the child sold. If a few men were hung like crows over the corn, if men thought their life would be dead if they bought children, you better know some of them would stop buying…If you knew that in your city tonight there were 5,000 slaves, would it bother you? Would you do something? What about 500? Would you march if you knew there were 500 people being hurt and enslaved? You would. Well there are, and we can prove it in every city we’ve looked at in the United States.”
What people need is not proof or more numbers but softened hearts who are called into action against such a tragedy that is ongoing in the cities and states we live in. I was greatly saddened to read about the reality for children that is happening only 70 miles from where I live. Crimes are happening at truck stops along two major interstate highways, these ribbons of transit going north and south (I-29) and then east and west (I-94). Young child prostitutes are derogatorily termed “lot lizards” and sent from truck to truck by order of CB radio. What?!
Yes, “Real Men Don’t Buy Sex” is a poster I’ve seen or a t-shirt that is worn by some abolitionists. We need changed hearts, we need broken hearts for the victims. We need more people like Linda Smith to make us all more aware of the little girls named Lacy who are rented out every night. Smith said this and I’ve seen it before: “There’s a saying on the street that a drug can be sold once, a girl over and over…the younger they are, the more money they get by the hour.”
I didn’t write anything today about Kazakhstan in this post but if they are wanting to emulate developed countries, such as the U.S., they should be on the right side of the law and stopping the demand in their country with better laws. But I’ll add this at the end, I was encouraged that Kazakh students had a fun run last weekend which was sponsored by the U.S. embassy in Astana called “Run a Mile against the Wile.” Many young Kazakh students participated and wore t-shirts that broadcast their taking sides against the tragic numbers. May this trend of awareness continue in Kazakhstan and in North Dakota and the rest of the U.S.