Friday, April 15, 2005

Prostitution...a free pass for minors...?

When I first saw these headlines, my immediate response was to balk about it. Trying to get a law to absolve minors of any criminal charges for prostitution...? Do we have no personal accountability in this society anymore...?

But then I read more and read some of the testimony from former teen prostitutes --and started thinking that punishing them for turning tricks to survive just may be double jeopardy. What if a 13 year old girl is being repeatedly raped/abused by her mother's grimy boyfriend who threatens her/her mom if she ever breathes a word? Life is so unbearable that she leaves. What are her options? She has to find a way to survive somehow...

"A proposal before the state Assembly [in Albany New York] would protect people under age 18 from criminal prosecution for prostitution. Assemblyman William Scarborough's measure would instead strengthen the safety net for the abused and runaway youngsters who are most at risk for exploitation. "

"There have been estimates that 200,000 to 300,000 youths nationwide are in the commercial sex exploitation industry, said Rachel Lloyd of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services. It's not unusual for girls as young as 10 to become ensnared; pimps and other child exploiters will troll through places like bus terminals on the lookout for vulnerable girls" (source)

The bill looks to create a new sector of the family court -PNS (Persons in Need of Supervision) where these girls could receive care, counseling and maybe a chance. These are the kind of 'social programs' that I do support...children should never have to pay for the bad choices of low life parents. I guess I am struggling over the wide net this casts though. What if the teen prostitute is not a hard luck story at all but a rebellious rich kid that is just hooking for a drug habit plain and simple...does she/he get the same breaks/sympathy/free pass as the girl getting her faced smashed in with no recourse? Is it feasible to make these distinctions?

I just don't know...

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