When the Associated Press and media reports on child sex trafficking, or attempts to tell their stories, the way they are described mislead the public about what is happening to trafficked children.
According to research by the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), The California Endowment, and The Raben Group, there have been more than 5,000 instances in the past five years when reporters for print, wire, and online outlets have used the phrase “child prostitute,” “child prostitution,” “underage prostitution” or other variations on the phrase to describe these exploited children.
I, with the Human Rights Project for Girls, understand it is the media’s job to convey a situation or an issue with precision and clarity. “Child prostitute” may seem clear because it conveys the fact that money is exchanged for sex, but it is also misleading because it suggests consent and criminality when none exists. Many of us are not even of legal age to consent to sex. I was 10. And girls like me are beaten, kidnapped, gang raped, and tortured into selling our bodies to adults, every night. This is not about choice. This is about abuse and rape.
Together with Rights4Girls, other survivors, and advocates, I implore the Associated Press to stop using the term child prostitute—or any other variation, like juvenile prostitute or child sex worker, because there is no such thing.
Join me in asking the Associated Press to take a stand.