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In the Land of the Free, it is against the law to get paid to have sex, unless that sex is filmed, distributed on DVD, and taxed. One of the least talked about systems of oppression in the US is that of persecuting prostitutes.

When referencing prostitution, we are talking about the mutually beneficial exchange of sexual favors for money by two or more consenting partners; not forced human trafficking.

It’s called the “oldest profession in the world” for a reason. Sex is a fundamental human need. One need only observe the explosive population growth of humans in the last 10,000 years to see that desire to mate is inherent in each and everyone one of us.

When one takes this into consideration, the notion of outlawing consensual sex is seen for what it is, sheer insanity.

As the age of the sex worker decreases, however, the likelihood of systemic abuse and immoral acts increases.

Contrary to the Hollywood movies showing young rich girls being ripped from their mansions to be sold into the sex trade, the reality of the child prostitute situation is far more depressing. According to Noah Berlatsky, writing for the New Republic, 

Most domestic minors in the sex industry are not kidnapping victims. They’re children who have fallen out with their parents (often because they are gay or trans), or been forced from their homes, and who sell sex to survive. And the biggest danger they face is not from organized rings of predatory criminals, but from the police. 

That’s one of the central insights in Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking: Beyond Victims and Villains, a new book by RTI International researcher Alexandra Lutnick. Youth in the sex trade are a criminalized and stigmatized population, and it’s very difficult to survey them or get accurate statistics about their experiences. But Lutnick told me by email that in her research and those of others, “It is not uncommon to hear that young people experience violence more often from law enforcement officials than from any other group.” 

In the worst cases, this violence takes the form of physical and sexual assault. Lutnick reports on one incident in which an underage transgender woman in New Orleans was forced to have oral sex with a police officer in order to avoid arrest, and another in which an underage cisgender worker was forced to fondle a police officer for five minutes. “I don’t understand,” the girl told her caseworker, “If he’s an undercover cop and I’m a minor isn’t he not supposed to, you know, let me do that?” (Lutnick also discussed this incident in testimony before a California public safety committee in 2015.)

According to the federal Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, it is against the law to charge a minor with a crime for prostitution or selling sex. However, these laws are hard to enforce from the federal level and often get overlooked. These girls are not only arrested, but many of them face even more abuse from the police themselves.

As the Free Thought Project previously reported, a scathing study exposed the horrifying reality of the justice system locking underage girls up for being accused of prostitution, despite not even being old enough to consent to sex and in contrast with the federal law which outlaws it.

What the study highlighted is that this treatment of girls creates a sexual abuse to prison pipeline.

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This pipeline feeds many of these children into adult prisons too. In another report, conducted by Dana Liebelson, an investigation found that there are currently 6,000 children throughout the Land of the Free currently being held in prison facilities for adults.

In his report, Berlatsky interviewed Kristen DiAngelo, the executive Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP) of Sacramento, who explained that police abuse of child sex workers is the norm.

“There was this team, two police officers—one was Hispanic one was Asian—that’s all I remember, young men,” explained DiAngelo. “They’d come over and pick me up and they would take turns doing that with all the girls all over town, they’d take you out to the field, have sex with you—we’d call it rape now. But back then you just did what the police officer wanted. They’d dump you out in the field, it was surrounded by farmland and you had to figure out a way to hitchhike back in.”

In 2015, SWOP Sacramento interviewed 44 sex workers in the area. They reported similar police abuses to those DiAngelo had experienced. “The same stuff is happening today,” she said. “You could almost remove the face, put in a different person, and everything would be the same.”

As the Free Thought Project has pointed out time and again, police departments have been caught in everything from child porn production while on duty, to running entire child prostitution rings. Last year, when Jessa Dillow-Crisp, a former victim of forced sex trafficking came forward, she explained how police not only covered up for her rapists, they often were the rapists. 

Instead of addressing the growing problem of police abuse within prostitution enforcement, we see police unions successfully lobby the government for laws that allow them to legally have sex with prostitutes so they can then turn around and bust them!

It is pure insanity.

As the New Republic points out, Jenny Heineman, a sociologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas worked with the federally funded Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children program, in collaboration with research teams across the U.S. “More than half of the young people I interviewed stated that they regularly perform sex acts for police officers in exchange for their not being arrested,” she said.

Because of the abuse by police being so rampant, young girls who wish to escape their lives as sex workers have nowhere to go. If the police don't abuse them, they'll be arrested and thrown in a prison. If they are thrown in a prison, the likelihood of ever working outside of the sex trade again is vastly diminished. 

As long as the government's only reaction to the sex trade is force, sadly, the underage prostitution problem will never get better, and in fact, it will only worsen. A badge and gun do nothing to correct delicate societal problems like child prostitution, especially when many of those in possession of that badge and gun are active participants in those very problems.

h/t New Republic

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world.

Follow @MattA