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An­nu­ally more than 1 000 chil­dren are ar­rested for pros­ti­tu­tion in the USA.

Ma­lika Saada Saar, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Right­s4Girls, a hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion work­ing to erad­i­cate child pros­ti­tu­tion in the US, says what the au­thor­i­ties are fail­ing to ad­dress prop­erly “are the very peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for this heartache – the buy­ers. In any other con­text, what a ‘John’ does when he pur­chases a girl [for sex] would be con­strued as statu­tory rape or sex­ual as­sault of a mi­nor. There should be no dif­fer­ence be­tween rap­ing a child and pay­ing to rape a child”.

Saar says there is a “cul­ture of im­punity for rap­ing chil­dren when some­one pays for the act”, while men who pay for sex with un­der­age girls are rarely ar­rested. And if they are it’s for the rel­a­tively mi­nor of­fence of “mis­de­meanour so­lic­i­ta­tion”.

These men gen­er­ally avoid the same kind of pun­ish­ment – and dis­dain – re­served for adults who mo­lest or rape chil­dren.

Saar’s or­gan­i­sa­tion and oth­ers like it are cam­paign­ing to erad­i­cate the idea of a “child pros­ti­tute,” point­ing out that chil­dren who are raped, abused and ex­ploited are not pros­ti­tutes – they are vic­tims and sur­vivors of rape. And they de­serve the same le­gal pro­tec­tion, sup­ports and ser­vices given to child vic­tims of abuse.


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