Sometimes we are guilty of forming stereotypes around the “typical” profile of a young woman or girl that ends up in prostitution…Perhaps from a rough background, family trouble, abuse….We want to believe that we can predict the eventuality of ending up in the sex trade from way off…years in advance. Perhaps we do this in order to protect ourselves and our thoughts, helping us feel secure that our children, our girls are safe.
Until recently, this was my thinking. I work hard to keep my kids safe, instill my values into their lives – and because of that, I have believed that this would mean that my children would never, could never, end up in a situation of being bought for sexual purposes by another human being.
But there just is not that kind of security in life. I don’t want to over-simplify things. There are multiple factors that can lead to involvement in the sex trade, but still, sometimes we can do our best as parents, but because of a few circumstances that are out of our grasp to control, realities beyond are worst nightmares can happen to our daughters. I’m realizing that as I read and learn more about the sex trade in Canada.
One story I heard from the police is about a 16 year old - let’s call her Amy. Amy was a pretty ordinary girl; decent middle class home, acceptable report cards, never stood out as having any behavioral problems at school…The kind of kid you think is going to make it through adolescence doing alright, come out the other side and take her place as an ordinary citizen as an adult. Right? Think again.
Sometime around 14 years old, she met a boy and started dating him. He used drugs – nothing too hard core, a little marijuana, a little speed now and then. He introduced Amy to these things too, but it wasn’t that long before he got into harder drugs, started injecting and Amy followed close behind. When he got into trouble with the law, Amy needed to find money to support her habit. By this time, she was in a crowd of other girls who were doing the same thing, and they introduced her to a way to make quick money. Amy turned her first trick before she was 15.
Last month, the police and child protective services had to break down a door in order to rescue Amy. They knew a number of older men were using her for sex, and providing her with drugs. They found her lying on the floor of the basement of a shooting gallery, unconscious. She was taken to hospital for dehydration and nutritional depletion. She is only sixteen, and says that she is too far-gone to be saved and will keep using and prostituting until it kills her.
Her parents stand by, having tried everything and used every resource available to get her help. How could they have known that one wrong relationship would take them and their daughter into such a nightmare? I don’t want to think about my two daughters ending up in such a place; what if despite all the time and effort I put into raising them, they take a wrong turn?
If that were my daughter, I would want the law to protect her; I would want to make it so those men couldn’t just use her without consequence despite her wrong choices. I wouldn’t want society to turn away, and say “too bad” or worse, blame me as a parent.
This has got to be about more than individuals; it has to be about the value we see in each child, each girl and decide together how we want them to be treated. It is about us standing together to say that those using girls like this need to be prosecuted and brought to justice. It is not ok in Canadian society to buy another human being.