By: Michelle Herman
In one of my classes last week we spent the entire class discussing human sex trafficking in New York City. Particularly, we focused on the sex trafficking on minor children. The majority of prostitutes in New York City are young girls under the age of 18. We watched a video entitled “Very Young Girls” which will air on Showtime on December 11th. Some of these girls first entered prostitution when they were only 12 years old. In one case a girl was picked up by a pimp who pretended to be interested in a relationship and after a few weeks informed her that he was in fact a pimp. In another case the pimp took on a fatherly role to a girl in need of parents. The pimps convinced the girls that they “had to make money” for the pimp by prostituting themselves out and selling their bodies. These girls were not allowed to keep a single dollar for themselves. This is an issue that exists in New York City today.
Oftentimes, these girls will get arrested and arraigned in criminal court. They claim to be older and their fake IDs provide false proof. The girls show up in court with the pimps’ lawyer, with the pimp present, and thus the girls are forced to plead guilty to prostitution. This is a clear example of why plea bargains and the legal system is not always morally just. The prosecutors will turn a blind eye and take a guilty plea. They feel like they won the case and the girls return to their pimps are forced to continue to prostitute themselves and sell their bodies for the pimp’s benefit. The prostitutes never get their day in court to tell the truth. They are never truly able to confront their abusers, the pimps and obtain justice. No one inquires as to what is actually causing the girls to be prostitutes and full investigations into their ages are never conducted. The DA office is happy to “rubber stamp” these cases and accept the guilty plea as a win. This is clearly not a morally just outcome.
In a morally just court system the prostitutes will have a chance to tell their story to the court and the court will actually have the opportunity and perhaps the duty to help these unfortunate young girls.