This week, the New York Times reported a story concerning the trafficking of young girls in a small England town (the full article is available here). Between 1997 and 2013, over 1,400 children living in Rotherham, England were subjected to sexual exploitation and abuse. Despite reports to the police, those responsible for this horror were not prosecuted. Law enforcement routinely looked the other way, losing evidence and fining concerned parents for wasting the police officers’ time. Meanwhile, children as young as 11 were groomed for routine rape and exploitation. These girls were treated with contempt by police, who referred to their abusers as “boyfriends” and stated that they believed the girls consented to the sexual acts forced upon them, despite their young age. In response to this revelation, the leader of the Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council has resigned and the police chief is being pressured to do the same. This is not the only case of routine rape and exploitation coming from England at this time: in 2012, nine men were sent to jail for abusing up to 47 young girls.
When being groomed for exploitation, these young girls are often “courted” in public places, such as shopping malls, by young men. They are introduced to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs and a sexual relationship with one man follows. This man will often then insist that the girl engage in sexual activities with other men. Finally, the girls are blackmailed and threatened to discourage them from telling others, especially law enforcement, about the abuse.
Sex trafficking continues to be a very real problem across the world and we must remain aware it. This event shows our need for continued vigilance and support of organizations such as My Life My Choice, which aims to eradicate sex trafficking in the state of Massachusetts. Says Kirstan Barnett, SheGives founder, “This happened in England. To over 1,000 young girls. Recently. Sex trafficking is real and it is a threat to our girls everywhere. We are so proud to support My Life My Choice as they lead the fight against the trafficking of young girls in our home state.” My Life My Choice works to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of girls in Massachusetts through programs that educate and empower vulnerable young girls while changing the community discourse surrounding survivors.
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