How the Legal System (and Media) Deals with Teen Prostitution


Interesting account from CNN about how the justice system deals with teen prostitution.

Her ankles and wrists are shackled. She's wearing used sweats in the bright colors of the jailhouse, orange, blue and yellow. She shuffles to the courtroom to face the judge, her mother, and an uncertain future.

Selena is a 13-year-old who was sold for sex.

She wants to go home to her house in the suburbs and the baby sister she hardly knows. And now, facing a sympathetic judge and a loving mother who wants to make sure she's safe, Selena is being told she can't go home.

"I want to go home and I want to be with my family, that's all I want," she tells Juvenile Court Judge William Voy, her face bathed in tears. "This isn't making me any better in here."

Selena was arrested by undercover police on the Vegas strip on prostitution charges. But although she exchanged sex for money, in the eyes of the law, she's a victim, by virtue of her age and the circumstances under which she was sold: by a pimp on the website backpage.com, a pimp who used drugs to entice her, and took everything she earned….

She may be a victim, but she can't go home, because no one trusts that she won't run again, back into the arms of a pimp….

Selena desperately wants to return home, but the judge and her mother fear she will run away again and fall into the hands of another pimp.

So they came up with a short-term solution: to send her to a facility in Salt Lake City that can at least deal with her drug problems.

Story via the sex worker blog "Bound Not Gagged," where the author notes:

The rescue industry has an actual case of a 13 year old, what they call the average age of entry into prostitution, that they have "rescued" from a pimp.  As part of her "rescue" they bring her into court shackled at both the wrists and ankles.  Because a 13 year old female prisoner is such a threat to the officers and courtroom members.  They article states the system views her as the victim.  The legal system admits she received no money from being a prostitute.  It was all taken by the pimp.  Thus she has committed no crime.  Yet the court determines that she can't go home, she must remain a prisoner because she might runaway again.

This is rescue?  Brought into court in full shackles.  This is what the rescue industry is calling a solution?  She was treated as a slave by the pimp now she is a slave in the justice system.

From 2005, Kerry Howley interviewed Tracy Quan about her life as a prostitute.