Welcome to the seventeenth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
Thanks to Maia for the suggestion. If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.
Did you know that the average age of kids forced into commercial sexual exploitation in this area is 12? Here, that’s Middle Schoolers. Middle Schoolers.
Some of these kids (and it’s not exclusively girls) are nabbed off the street walking to and from school, from bus stops and shopping malls. Some are runaways or foster kids, some are lured by the promise of a fledgling romance with a cute boy, and some are invited somewhere by other young girls who are under the control and instruction of a pimp. They are taken from our streets and end up enslaved, working all around the country.
I work in Oakland, home of ‘the Track’: a section of International Boulevard that is one of the hotbeds of sex trafficking in the Unites States. Pimping, in particular the commercial sexual exploitation of minors, is far more lucrative than selling drugs. Five or six kids, at $80 to $200 a trick, can earn trafficker $600,000 a year. And unlike drugs, these kids can be sold again, and again, and again, with minimal outlay.
Many people think human trafficking is an international problem, something that’s not in their own backyards. But it’s a domestic problem, where local kids are being sexually exploited for commercial gain. They are sold out on the Track, in motels that charge by the hour, and online. A recent article in the New York Times told the story of Baby Face, 13-year-old girl who managed to break free from the control of her pimp long enough to alert the police:
[The internet] is a godsend to pimps, allowing customers to order a girl online as if she were a pizza.
The more I come to know about what is happening out on the street, the more passionate I am to help change the situation. And we are. Find out more at the new website we’ve just launched to help inform people about human trafficking: HEAT Watch.
If you see something that is not right, speak up. You might be helping a kid who really needs it.