47 children were rescued in a mass arrest targeting pimps who forced children into prostitution, but 518 adult prostitutes were arrested.

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Story here. Below is an excerpt:

… The FBI said the roundup by federal, state and local law enforcement occurred in 29 cities, adding that the raids dismantled 12 large-scale prostitution operations run through call services, truck stops, casinos and Web sites.

At a news conference announcing the results of Operation Cross Country II, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said the arrests were made possible by intelligence gathered during a similar series of raids in June.

“Sex trafficking of children remains one of our most violent and unconscionable crimes in this country,” Pistole said.

The 47 rescued children ranged in age from 13 to 17, and all but one are female. Of these, Pistole said, 10 had been reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

A total of 642 people were arrested. The FBI says they include 73 pimps and 518 adult prostitutes.

The operation was part of a larger, five-year initiative that has led to the recovery of 575 children and the dismantling of 36 criminal operations since June 2003.

Child prostitution has taken on a new urgency in recent years with the growth of online networks where pimps advertise the youngsters to clients. The FBI generally gets involved in child prostitution cases that cross state lines. …

Maybe some of the referenced “adult prostitutes” were coercing children, but many of them were probably coerced as well.   The arrests of prostitutes just because they are adults makes no sense at all in this context. That is why the Senate needs to pass the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

It is being opposed by the Bush Justice Department, which has a particularized objection to”wasting money”on the adult victims of sex trafficking, who are seen as less worthy of help than victims forced to work in other industries, due to the sexualized nature of their servitude.

If the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is passed, every state would be required to adopt a more humane approach toward prostitues. Prostitution would still be illegal, but the Act would be one important step towards decriminalization. And bringing federal law enforcement into the mix to aid adult trafficking victims as well as children would lead to better outcomes for them. Though it might be appropriate to make children the priority, coerced adults are entitled to compassion and assistance too.

More here and here.

–Ann Bartow

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