Be careful about the FBI\’s child slavery announcement

For I\’m sure that what has actually happened here will be twisted into the proof of something quite different.

Declaring child prostitution a “persistent threat” in America, the FBI said Monday that authorities had rescued 105 young people and arrested 150 alleged pimps in a three-day sweep in 76 cities.

That\’s excellent.

The FBI announced on Monday that it had freed 105 sexually exploited teenagers and arrested 150 suspected pimps in a nationwide sting on underage prostitution over the weekend that included 76 cities


Police liberated 12 child prostitutes and arrested 21 pimps in an FBI-coordinated sweep that targeted people who forced minors — some as young as 13 locally — into the sex trade in the Bay Area and across the nation.

That\’s not quite so good reporting. And this is worse:

FBI agents have rescued more than 100 children forced into prostitution by sex traffickers, during a three-day sweep across the US.

The FBI has indeed cracked down on child prostitution but on trafficking not so much. But this will, I am certain, be used to bolster the claims that trafficking is widespread and that something must be done.

Let\’s start from the beginning. Almost all of the victims here can indeed be described as children: 13-17 year old females. Given that they are not over the age of consent (in the US, for either porn or prostitution that\’s 18, while that for sex can be the same or much lower, in some States those 13 year olds could be married, I think that\’s still true).

We might also describe them as teenagers which is rather less emotive than the linkage between \”child\” and \”paedophilia\”.

But I have no doubt that someone will use this to prove that there are vast numbers of children being sold off to paedophiles.

The other important point is over the definition of trafficking. In its strict sense this means sex slavery, being held against their will and then being repeatedly raped. So, we can indeed argue that being under the age of consent they cannot consent so therefore they are being trafficked. I\’m attracted to that logic myself.

However, at the same time we should also agree that this is rather different from that strict sense of \”trafficked\” which is that sex slave repeated rape thing. That teenage prostitutes are found, those who cannot in law consent, is not the same thing as finding women tied up in basements who are only let out to perform a blow job.

But I equally have no doubt that we\’ll see, soon enough, someone claiming that the proven existence of the first means that the second must be true.

I have no doubt that there is teenage prostitution in the UK and elsewhere and I very much wish there wasn\’t. But that existence is very diferent from the claims that there are 25,000 (D. MacShane) sex slaves in the UK. But as I say, I have no doubt that soon enough we\’ll be seeing people using the proof of the first as proof that the second exists.

17 thoughts on “Be careful about the FBI\’s child slavery announcement”

  1. Isn’t encouraging drug addiction in girls with inadequate family/social support and supervision, then requiring services to be performed in lieu of/for the cash required to support such addiction a slavery of sorts? You end up with people willing to do things they would not be willing to do absent the addiction.

    Surely it’s even more effective than tying people up in basements (particularly for customers who prefer a willing whore), and rather harder to prosecute.

  2. Well, it’s the old First Wave Feminist imaginary plague, “WHite Slavery”, rebranded. As we all know.

    There’s a widespread belief today that Victorian England was full of child prostitutes. What they actually had was many teenage prostitutes. Because human beings sexually mature in the early teens. Which is just plain biology.

    The clever invention by the mad women of Victorian England was the idea that sex is still wrong until you’re many years older, thus branding teenagers have sex as aberrant. And so it continues, with for instance the strange result that a large minority, if not a majority, of ordinary people have their first sexual experience illegally. And most who don’t wish they’d had the chance to.

    Of course, back then, the famous incident that got the law pushed through was WT Stead, the Paul Dacre of his day, running his “Maiden Tribute Of Babylon” articles that purported to reveal this imaginary slave traffick of girls spirited away to brothels. Not having a real example to hand, he procured and kidnapped one himself. He went to prison for it, but by then the moral panic had got the law already passed. Stead was an evangelical nutjob with Salvationist tendencies.

    So really, now as then you have some girls below an artificlal age of consent who are prostitutes. No slavery, no “traffic”, and nobody interested in the truth, because hysteria is much more useful to the mad women whose views control our society.

    They need a good smashing up the arse, or something.

  3. Well done Tim for pointing out the difference between consent & legal consent. As far as ‘informed consent’ is concerned, regretfully there’s plenty of young teenage (or even younger) kids who are a whole lot more ‘informed’ than journalists or anyone who comments here. The world ain’t a pretty place.

    But if you want to understand prostitution, there’s something you have to get your head round. There is absolutely no shortage of women (or men) who will be delighted to exchange sex for money. What there is, is a shortage of clients willing to pay money for sex. This is true here, true I know in the UK & likely true in the US & the world over.. Result is that in most places the service is remarkably cheap. Just because you hear telephone numbers doesn’t mean that reflects reality. To put it in context: You can dine at the Ritz Grill. Or get a takeaway kebab. it’s all the same catering industry.
    Down the road from me, there’s a quartet of friendly lasses who’ll be overjoyed to give you half hour of their undivided attention for 30€. Free beer thrown in. (For those interested the VFM offer is a duet for 50)They split a third of that with the women who runs the apartment. At those rates there simply isn’t the margin to be worthwhile forcing a women into prostitution. The expense involved in compulsion would far exceed what you’d make consensually. JamesV’s contention above fails because if you want to deal drugs to hookers, deal drugs to hookers. Some but by no means all, or even many, use. But you don’t need to entrap them.
    Couple other points.
    The biggest safeguard against underage prostitution is the industry itself. A lot of the girls are mothers. There’s a lot of information sharing. Anyone trying to market underage talent will get bubbled very quickly.
    The more unregulated the industry is, the more it polices itself. Sex slavery & underage kids can only happen if the industry is forced underground & the market doesn’t operate.

  4. As it’s an American story, they haven’t dared mention race once. Black girls hit puberty earlier than white girls, with the result that even at 12 or 13 they can look remarkably adult (particularly when slathered in make-up). A young black American girl once recounted to me with gusto how she was able to enter bars and clubs at age 13 with no questions asked. That’s no mean feat when the drinking age is 21.

  5. Sex slavery & underage kids can only happen if the industry is forced underground & the market doesn’t operate.

    as is happening in some of the Scandiwegian countries right now, who have decided to criminalise paying for sex. How they manage to legally separate “paying cash money to a stranger exclusively for sex” and “providing inducements to someone to you know to sleep with you” and all the shades of grey (ha!) in between is anyone’s guess.

    In any case, as someone once said, people don’t pay prostitutes for sex, they pay them to go away afterwards.

    (BIS: seriously, a ‘duet’ for just over forty squid? Are they, well, a bit mooselike?)

  6. Forty quid?

    Round here it’s apparently about £150 or so for the first half hour, according to the internets. And that’s just one.

  7. I’m not aware of the going rate for whores anywhere, but am inclined to believe €60 an hour (or less) is not going to buy you the highest available quality. You wouldn’t be likely to deal drugs to those ladies, they might even have trouble getting a payday loan from wonga.

    Quality being in the eye of the customer, who is likely to pay a lot more than the moose rate for illegal qualities, the drugs angle stands.

  8. @Ian
    . No moose were denigrated in the making of this comment. And they don’t thrive in Brazil, anyway. Be coypus.
    But I said. There’s an oversupply of talent. It’s a market & behaves as one.

    What city are you? 150/half hour’s ridiculous. There’s a Bayswater agency’ll rent you a top of the range Thai for £150/hour. I used to do the maintenance on the apartments & believe me, that was dangerous work. People have died & gone to heaven in those places. Or thought they had,

  9. It’s also worth a mention that this sort of “sweep” is done purely for propaganda purposes anyway; the FBI pretty much invented the modus operandi of raids and sweeps to influence public perceptions.

    The FBI (orignally, BOI) was originally set up as a kind of mutaween anyway. Its first job was surveying brothels in preparation for the White Slavery Act (Mann Act). It then of course got a massive boost in the land of the free’s “make beer illegal” era.

    Hoover, that strange man who was either a repressed homosexual or a repressed heterosexual, but definitely a repressed something, was drawn into his line of work by his huge admiration for the odious Comstock.

    So, I don’t know that using this “sweep” to spread lies about white slavery is a misuse of it. It’s presumably the FBI’s intention.

  10. One thing that’s misleading about some of these reports is the talk of “rescuing” all these teenagers. Making it sound as if they’ll all be helped to change their lives in some meaningful way.

    In reality, in many states, these “children” (especially those aged 15-17) are treated more like adult criminals than victims. They’ll get processed through the system, appear in the FBI statistics, then be back out on the street with nothing changed.

    If you dig deeper I think you’ll find that some of the teens “rescued” in this latest sting will have been picked up in the previous one, and the one before that, and have had contact with the authorities on multiple occasions. They’ll keep on appearing in these “child slavery” statistics until they hit the magic age of 18 and transform into straight forward criminal prostitutes (dozens of whom are arrested for every teen “rescued”).

  11. I knew that this story was not what it said on the tin when I saw loacl news coverage (Detroit) that showed women being led away in handcuffs. ‘Victims’ don’t get handcuffed. They are just more fodder for the criminal justice system, juvenile division.



  12. Looking at the various news reports, one thing I find interesting is how few of them mention the number of adult prostitutes arrested during these stings. Most of them only talk about the teens rescued and pimps arrested, as if any adult prostitutes discovered were ignored by law enforcement.

    A few of the local news stories are an exception. For example, in Chicago, two teenage prostitutes were “rescued” and 96 adult prostitutes were arrested, while in Las Vegas, one teenage prostitute was “rescued” and 41 adult prostitutes were arrested.

    Considering the fact that law enforcement were meant to be specifically targeting suspected cases of child prostitution, these figures definitely don’t support the scare statistics used by anti-prostitution groups. For example, many organisations claim that the average age of entry into prostitution is just 12 years old, yet that’s lower than the age of any individual underaged prostitute discovered during this crackdown.

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