Sara (name changed), age 18, was arrested for prostitution a month after giving birth to her third child. She didn’t know who the father was, but did know the ugly path that led her to that moment. It all started when she was 12 and left her family home. Her parents were fighting and she was tired of the screaming.
Her older boyfriend suggested someone who could help her. While they were waiting in an apartment, her boyfriend offered her something to drink. It was Hennessy Cognac – A drink that quickly made her drunk.
She watched as her boyfriend left the room. Sara tried to sit up, but she was too drunk to move. She then watched as another man entered the room and took advantage of her. When she sobered, she found a pile of cash lying next to her along with her new pimp and some “medication” to help her get past the experience. She had been victimized and recruited with no way out.
The average age of girls entering the sex trafficking trade in Chicago is 12 – 14. The vast majority never gave their consent, but was drugged into participation. Most girls were also forced to watch hours and hours of Internet porn to help their performance and attitudes.
Unfortunately, Sara was never able to get out until she was arrested and treated like a tramp by the arresting officers. She had attempted to escape numerous times when she was a victimized minor, but her attempts were futile. However, once she turned 18, she was no longer considered a victim, but instead a lady of the night. Most laws are aimed at the commercial sexual exploitation of children and do not cover those who come of age during their drug induced captivity.
The year she was abducted into the sex trade, she joined an estimated 1,800 – 4,000 other girls in Chicago, and about 400,000 – 800,000 girls nationally. While there is a wide spread in the estimated numbers based on the Illinois survey that was conducted with victims and police officers, the numbers are still too high for people like me with two daughters.
So, who’s doing the rescuing?
I can’t help but reflect on history and the religious people in their pews on Sunday morning listening to the trains carting off Jews to the concentration camps. This multi-million dollar industry must be stopped. And, those who are victimized by the trade must be treated with care and respect, even if they turn 18.
It’s the church’s responsibility to bring hope to our nation, yet churchgoers seem to be the most out of touch with what is happening in our neighborhoods. We need to encourage changes in the law and find ways to help rescue those trapped in a vicious survival mode battling between their next fix and their freedom.
Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I
saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the
side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter.
Will you be their comforter?
Awareness is the first step and I hope I’ve helped you to understand what many Jr. High girls are facing these days. Your prayers are desperately needed. And more importantly, should you come across any girl involved in sex trafficking or having just escaped, treat her with respect and show her kindness regardless of her age. After all, she never asked for the mess she ended up living in.