Oakland’s Child Prostitution ‘Epidemic’

May 22, 2008 11:20 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Child prostitution has become a major problem in Oakland, Calif., according to recent report. But the practice isn’t confined to The Golden State.

30-Second Summary

The Bay Area’s Mercury News reports that “the Oakland Police Department identified 293 teens younger than 18 being prostituted by at least 155 pimps over the 18-month period that ended in May 2003.”

According the paper, as police clamped down on the crack-cocaine trade over the last ten years, dealers moved to “the more lucrative and less risky trade of selling young girls for sex.”

The younger the children are, the more money pimps can make from them. Police say a pimp can earn $500 a day for an 11- or 12-year-old-girl. The girl will most likely not see any of the money.

However, the practice is not confined to Oakland. According to a study of 10 U.S. cities conducted by former Washington Congresswoman Linda Smith, “At least 100,000 American citizens under 18 are being sold for sex." The report goes on to say that these girls are often “treated as criminals, not victims,” according to Washington-based newspaper The Columbian.

Carissa Phelps, a former child prostitute and currently the subject of a documentary called “Carissa,” also takes exception to the criminalization of underage prostitutes.

Phelps told USA Today that “calling them ‘child prostitutes’ puts the blame on the wrong person." Instead, she refers to them as “prostituted children.”

In 2006, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert commented on Atlanta’s growing child prostitution network. He wrote that Atlanta "has become a hub of child prostitution and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children.”

Headline Link: ‘Oakland Pimps Prey on Youth’

Background: Child prostitution in America

Opinion & Analysis: ‘Young, Cold and for Sale’

Reference: Children of the Night


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