I watched last Thursday's (5/24) episode of The Montel Show which was on human trafficking of North American girls, something that many people assume only happens to girls shipped into our country. He included segments on different aspects of this problem.
A cop discussed a case where a mother trafficked her own daughter for child porn and possible rape (if the price was right).
A woman talked about how when she was 13 and completely naive, she was lured into a car and only discovered she'd fallen into a trap after she was taken to another city and so completely isolated that she felt she had no choice but to comply when she was prostituted. She became so isolated and so dependent on her pimp that when she was facing the foster care system and fearing that it would be worse than prostitution that she returned to her pimp.
An ex-pimp who grew up as the son of a pimp talked about how he approached what he did and how he used personal charm and deception to lure girls most people would assume couldn't be lured.
Tina Frundt: The Outreach Coordinator for the Polaris Project talked about efforts to help the sexually trafficked escape and deal with all the issues survivors have.
A women talked about how she was 14 ran away from home for a couple of days and met a seemingly nice married couple who thought she could be a model. That nice couple then drugged her and she woke up in a room where she was repeatedly raped. She escaped only through deception so one of the men who raped her agreed to take her to the hospital.
The mother of Jessie Foster talked about her ongoing search for her daughter who she didn't know had been involved with prostitution until her daughter's daily contact with family members abruptly ceased.
What I liked most about this particular episode and Montel William's treatment of this subject was that without a trace of victim blaming he asked how even middle-class girls -- who to most of us wouldn't seem vulnerable -- could be lured into going somewhere with a pimp. It seems like victim blaming is so pervasive that it is shocking to watch a show where it is absent completely.
Most of these girls are coerced through bait and switch, although I don't think anyone on the show used that term. Pimps don't usually announce that they are pimps and most of them don't fit the stereotype people have of what pimps look like.
Montel also didn't victim blame when a girl went back to her pimp. By him not falling into that trap, viewers got to see the fear which is created within the victims of sex traffickers of "the system" which is reinforced when police and the courts fail to recognize the full scope of the problem.
In the final moments of the show the ex-pimp said that part of the problem is that many of those who are given the charge to crack down on the sex trafficking of children are participating in what they are supposed to stop. To me this put a real focus on the reality that without those willing to pay to have sex with children, their would be no sexual trafficking of children.
We can't condemn the pimps while excusing any of those who are willing to pay to rape and exploit and expect to see a significant reduction in the amount of sex trafficking. This is big business and those feeding this business with their cash have a major responsibility for this injustice.
Every time someone says of a rape case, "She was just a prostitute" that person is revealing a willingness to support rape and sexual trafficking. These people will claim they make these statements because prostitutes aren't reliable, but I suspect that for many men what they fear is the complete truth from those who have been prostituted about those who pay for sex.
On this Memorial Day, I remember those who lost their lives in willing service to our country, but I also remember those who lost their lives through unwilling service to the sexual and financial appetites of others.