Human trafficking and prostitution rings are despicable things, run by people who thrive on their ability to exploit the weak and vulnerable for their own financial gain. However, human trafficking took a new and disturbing twist in Ottawa this week when two 15-year-old girls were arrested on multiple charges related to an alleged prostitution ring involving girls as young as 13.
Charges include human trafficking, robbery, procuring, forcible confinement, sexual assault, assault, uttering threats and abduction, all related to the ring the girls were allegedly operating in the south end of the city. They allegedly lured other girls through social media and then held or drove them to other locations for the purposes of prostitution. A third girl, age 17, is still being sought by the local police.
Those who study sexual exploitation and its victims, however, were not surprised by the case. They believe the girls were likely prostitutes themselves in the past and turned to running the operation in a way to regain power. The real question, says Janine Benedet, a law professor who researches sexual violence against women, is why aren’t we arresting the men who are buying?
The police are largely tight-lipped about the situation, saying only that on three separate occasions the girls lured victims as young as 13 to a city residence for “social reasons,” later driving them to other locations where the forced acts of prostitution took place.
Carnie Lewis on Flickr