In November I attended the lecture involving Sexploitation, which detailed the documentary about child sexual exploitation on the streets of Oakland. Representatives from the MISSSEY organization were present, Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting, and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth, and discussed issues that lead to sexual exploitation. Exploitation is systematic; it typically occurs in impoverished neighborhoods with individuals who have been sexually abused as children. Exploiters tend to use economic leverage, seduction, coercion, and violence to trap vulnerable individuals. Unfortunately, foster care seems to be a common means for abusers to take advantage of youth. In response to the overwhelming percent of children involved in exploitation, Jeff Key established the mentor film program, a way in which students are able to get college credit for making PSA’s about health and social issues facing the Alameda County community. The Sexploitation film, which involved an interview with Oakland cop, Holly Joshi, was one of these PSA’s that students had made. Though the film typically discussed female prostitution, MISSSEY representatives stated that boys are also exploited as young as 10 years old.
Though many believe human trafficking to be an issue in other countries, the number one destination for trafficked children is America. This is not an issue that affects other countries, this is happening right in our own neighborhoods. Pimping has been an issue for Oakland since the 1970’s as media coverage encouraged the practice. As movies detailing the ‘high life’ of pimps were produced, pimping became a popular occupation. Pimps control their victims in various ways depending on the victim’s situation. Some are “Romeo pimps” who seduce the girls by pretending to be their boyfriends, while “Guerilla pimps” kidnap girls and threaten them with violence to their families. Due to the “circuit” pimps are able to keep the girls circulating, thereby thwarting the efforts of law enforcement.
Although police are trying to help free children from exploitation, they typically arrest the girls on prostitution charges. Prostitution is the crime of consenting to sex for money, however, if these girls are under the age of 18, they are not legally able to consent for sex. Therefore, this reasoning by law enforcement is quite irrational. With 30,000 children exploited each year in the United States, this is a serious problem. Exploitation is not based on misogyny or racism, it encompasses both sexes as well as all races. As mentioned previously, there are a few core issues that perpetuate exploitation. Not only do police need to be specially trained on how to deal with exploited children, we as American’s need to care for and give more attention to our poorer communities in order to ensure that this issue does not persist.