I would like to address the language use of "child prostitution” and "underage prostitution" that appeared in two articles earlier this month.
Sex trafficking is “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purposes of a commercial sex act, in which the commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age (Trafficking Victims Protection Act, 2000).” In the sting that occurred earlier this month, the perceived individual was 15 years old, meaning that the operation isn’t "prostitution" and instead is defined as human trafficking.
We cannot continue to foster a culture where we label individuals who have experienced various forms of human trafficking as prostitutes. We need to build a culture and community that recognizes the traumatic experiences these individuals have faced. The average age of entry into sex trafficking in Arizona is 14. Youth who have been trafficked from such a young age often do not recognize that what they are experiencing. It is with this in mind that we need to reframe how we are labeling and identifying these individuals, which is as survivors of human trafficking, not prostitutes.
(Editor's note: For the record, the suspects were arrested on charges of prostitution, not sex trafficking.)