Flesh for Sale

Ghastly: Trafficking in girls

Horribly, multitudes of teen-age American girls — mostly runaways from troubled homes — are scooped up by pimps who use brutality and drugs to turn them into $1,000-per-night money machines.

Human slavery reports mostly focus on deceived girls from Russia or southeast Asia who are sucked into the sex trade — but just as many U.S. Nicholas Kristoff Flesh for Salevictims can be found in backstreet bordellos and on street corners, new disclosures say.

Nobody knows exactly how many there are. Nathan Wilson of a Washington rescue operation speculates that 1.6 million teens, including foreign imports, are kept half-captive in U.S. prostitution. Other experts make lower estimates of 100,000 to 300,000. Numerous states are passing laws to break the sex traffic and rehabilitate the girls. Nonprofit groups are creating shelters where victims can flee to safety. The FBI prosecutes pimps under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.

Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times crusades against female trafficking worldwide. He once bought two girls from a foreign brothel for $150 and $200 to set them free. He and his wife have written a new book, Half the Sky, about oppression of women. Stunningly, Kristof told a college assembly that sex trafficking of girls now is 10 times larger than the slave trade was before the Civil War.

Last week, Kristof wrote that America’s worst offense isn’t “Mexican or Korean or Russian women smuggled into brothels in the United States…. The biggest trafficking problem involves homegrown American runaways.” [continued]

Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The Times since 2001, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner who writes op-ed columns that appear twice a week.

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