I recently came across a powerful video on YouTube where Ashley Judd reveals a moving story about a 14-year-old daughter of a friend of hers who was recently forced into prostitution in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Who are these men who buy children for sex?” asks Judd. “They are our fathers, they are our brothers, our husbands, uncles, cousins, and friends…it is so common.”
Take a look at the video:
The clip is from Newsweek and The Daily Beast’s Women in the World Summit that was held earlier this month. Judd’s speech was an introduction to the panel “‘No Such Thing’: Trafficking of Girls in the United States.”
While many view the problem of child sex trafficking as a third world issue, the reality is that it happens right here in the U.S. In fact, according to The Daily Beast, 100,000-300,000 children between the ages of 12 and 14 years old are victims of the child sex trade in this country. New York City — the city I call home — is one of the United States’ biggest hubs.
What’s worse? Many of these children don’t get the help they need and are instead arrested for prostitution and thrown in juvenile detention centers. But these girls are not hookers or prostitutes — they are children who are being forced, sometimes as many as 15 times a day, to have sex with men against their will.
I’m so deeply saddened that this happens anywhere in the world, let alone my backyard. More awareness around this issue is desperately needed so victims get the help they need and pimps are punished for these heinous crimes.
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Photo by Ulrica used under a Creative Commons license - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ulricaproduction/4937239031/