By Any Other Name

 

I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…

One million two hundred thousand children are sold for sex every revolution this planet makes around its star. About a quarter of that sex trade happens in the United States. About a thousand of those girls and boys, most of them fourteen to sixteen, some as young as eight or nine, are arrested, jailed, and prosecuted as criminals.

Yasmin Vafa is executive director of Rights4Girls, a human rights organization based in Washington, D.C. Vafa wants the cops who arrest them, and the prosecutors and judges who condemn them, to know that a child who has been raped for pay is no different from a child who has been raped, period.

The fact that girls and boys in the trade have almost always been called child prostitutes has only heightened the perception that a child who by law is unable to consent to sex is yet criminally responsible for the sale of it.

She’s led a years-long campaign, “No Such Thing as a Child Prostitute,” to change attitudes.

A couple months ago the Associated Press changed its attitude, and asked its writers and editors to stop using the word prostitute in connection with a child. A little while before that, the Los Angeles County Sheriff ordered his deputies to stop arresting children on prostitution charges.

That’s one small step for a major news organization and the country’s fourth-biggest cop shop, a giant leap for about a quarter of humankind.

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