Thirdeyemom

The Long Night: A look into America’s underage prostitution

Oftentimes I become so incredibly focused in my global advocacy work that I forget that several awful things happen right under my nose here in the United States. Recently the media has gone into high speed telling stories igniting fierce protests across the nation about recent police brutality and racism. However, one story that has not received as much attention by the media is the sickening and increasing level of young girls in our nation who are getting trapped into prostitution.

Here are a few stats on sex trafficking in the United States that will surely surprise you :

  • Human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States. (United Nations)
  • Approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being prostituted in the United States. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • The average age of entry into prostitution for a child victim in the United States is 13-14 years old. (U.S. Department of Justice)
  • A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • The average victim may be forced to have sex up to 20-48 times a day. (Polaris Project)
  • Fewer than 100 beds are available in the United States for underage victims. (Health and Human Services)
  • Department Of Justice has identified the top twenty human trafficking jurisdictions in the country:” Houston
• El Paso
• Los Angeles
• Atlanta
• Chicago
• Charlotte
• Miami
• Las Vegas
• New York
• Long Island
• New Orleans
• Washington, D.C.
• Philadelphia
• Phoenix
• Richmond
• San Diego• San Francisco
• St Louis
• Seattle
• Tampa  (Department of Justice)
  • A pimp can make $150,000-$200,000 per child each year and the average pimp has 4 to 6 girls. (U.S. Justice Department, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children)
  • One in three teens on the street will be lured toward prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. (National Runaway Hotline)
Turned out by a pimp at 13, Lisa only knows one life. The heroin that makes her forget and the tricks she turns to #survive. "I feel like my skin’s crawling right now and it’s like it doesn’t matter how clean I try to get how many showers I take, it doesn’t go away. When I say I’m scared of being sober, I’m scared of the reality of things." Twitter: "I'm #scared of being #sober, I'm scared of the #reality of things." Free streaming @tlnmovie at hope.ly/1ySHk6W #survivor #seattle

Turned out by a pimp at 13, Lisa only knows one life. The heroin that makes her forget and the tricks she turns to #survive.
“I feel like my skin’s crawling right now and it’s like it doesn’t matter how clean I try to get how many showers I take, it doesn’t go away. When I say I’m scared of being sober, I’m scared of the reality of things.”
Twitter: “I’m #scared of being #sober, I’m scared of the #reality of things.” Free streaming @tlnmovie at hope.ly/1ySHk6W #survivor #seattle Photo Credit: Tim Matsui

One photographer and filmmaker Tim Matsui wanted to change this and show the world that this issue is important and that something needs to be done. Working in Seattle, together with the King County Sheriff’s Department, victims of prostitution and their parents, The Long Night is a harrowing tale of pimps, teenage girl prostitutes, the law enforcement team working to help them and their parents trying to save them. It is a difficult hour to watch but also a highly moving piece that truly helps one understand a tough subject matter.

32 comments

  1. Thanks for adding a good word for the police officers. Many of them, like medical professionals, probably begin their careers with a huge desire to help and care, but systems so often force the dogmatic response and things go awry. Dogmatism takes so much less energy than listening to and seeing the person in front of you.

  2. Nobody talks about the men who use and a use these girls (and boys). What is wrong with them??? They should be the ones thrown In jail along with the pimps. What kind of man pays for sex with a young, drugged, off her head, girl?
    Thank goodness for the decent people who are trying to help these victims.

    • Yes Debra! I got so involved in writing the post that I did not mention the obvious….the men who truly believe that this is ok!! I remember watching a documentary on Cambodia showing a “sex tourist town” where men go and pick out the girls they want to have sex with. It made me so insanely mad. I want to jump on a plane, fly there and cut off their “friends”. It is terrible.

  3. I too was moved by the police officers’ realization that they had the power to do so much more for these girls and their tragic situations than to just arrest them. It’s a reminder for us all that if we try hard enough, we can always skip the judgements and find a way to lend a powerful hand. And these girls certainly need and deserve that.

    • Yes so true Tisha. I was really moved because there is so much bad press about police now with everything going on but the film helped us remember there are some good ones out there too. Cops that do care and are trying to help. Thanks for the comment!

  4. I too was moved by the police officers’ kindness and their realization that they could do so much more for these girls and their tragic situations than to just arrest them. This issue absolutely requires the rallying of the “village” mentality. It’s a sober reminder for all of us that if we try hard enough we can skip the judgements and find a way to lend a powerful hand in a very personal way. And these girls so need and deserve that.

  5. Great post, Nicole. I am about to write mine. It was a powerful movie that I hope many people will take the time to watch. People don’t realize this is going on in our own backyard.

  6. As you know Nicole this is an issue close to my heart. Thank you for bringing awareness to the fact that this just doesn’t happen in ‘other’ parts of the world.

    • Yes so true Sue. I hope this film brings more awareness. When you watch it and see the girls, you realize they are children and could be your very own child. It is horrible and I hope we can give these girls a way out.

  7. A tragic tale that isn’t restricted to any single nation. And I echo Debra’s comment. The men who knowingly pay for sex with underage girls are as culpable as the pimps. Thank you for the statistics and the links to the movie Nicole.

    • Yes so true Madhu. Oftentimes I do forget that this happens right in my own backyard but it does. It makes me so mad and even madder that these men know what they are doing and buy sex!

    • Yes. It was really hard to watch but I’m so glad these filmmakers are making documentaries on issues like prostitution. It helps us learn more about what is going on and try to help.

  8. The statistics overwhelmed me! Like Amy says above, it is sobering. Every major city in the U.S. appears to have a human trafficking problem. Thanks for creating an awareness for this sensitive issue, Nicole. My heart breaks for these girls and their families.

    • Thanks Debbie. Yes the stats are horrible and the film is really well done. It was hard to watch but I like to be informed of the issues and the filmmaker really did a great job portraying what underage prostitution does to all those involved.

  9. A moving post and touching story to be sure as such stories have been through the years. Nothing changes and nothing will change until America chooses to grow up and get beyond pretense. More than half of all sex-trafficking crimes will be wiped out when prostitution is legalized and not disgraced by cowardly men and jealous women. You will immediately cease making monsters like Bill Cosby and more. The other half would be wiped out in education. A clock is now ticking down on America and the rest of the world to make amends for abusing the Source.
    Unearned Superiority
    http://wp.me/p5hzt1-20

    • This is an interesting comment so thank you for it. I am not at all against making prostitution legal as long as it would protect the women involved and make it more regulated. In some countries where it is legal like the Netherlands there has been mixed results. I think the biggest issue that this post is about is women being forced or trapped into prostitution. Women who are girls and were abused and are vulnerable and get mixed up in a terrible business where they are abused, arrested and mistreated by men and pimps. That is more the issue that I’m covering in the piece. It would be interesting to see if legalizing prostitution made it better and safer for women and if less women would be coerced into prostitution. As this has gone on for centuries, it is never going to go away. But if we can help the women involved who don’t want to do it, get out and be safer, than that would really been a huge improvement.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: