Amy Fine Collins has written one of those lengthy investigative pieces for Vanity Fair, on a subject that most people would prefer not to talk about in polite company. As such it’s a compelling read…
Even as celebrity activists such as Emma Thompson, Demi Moore, and Mira Sorvino raise awareness about commercial sex trafficking, survivor Rachel Lloyd publishes her memoir Girls Like Us, and the Senate introduces a new bipartisan bill for victim support, the problem proliferates across continents, in casinos, on streets, and directly into your mobile device. And, as Amy Fine Collins shows, human trafficking is much closer to home than you think; victims, younger than ever, are just as likely to be the homegrown American girl next door as illegally imported foreigners. Having gained access to victims, law-enforcement officials, and a convicted trafficker, Collins follows a major case that put to the test the federal government’s Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
The names of all victims and their relatives have been changed. Quotes from Dennis Paris, Gwen, and Alicia are taken from court testimony.
“He called me a stupid bitch … a worthless piece of shit.… I had to tell people I fell off stage because I had so many bruises on my ribs face and legs.… I have a permanent twitch in my eye from him hitting me in my face so much. I have none of my irreplaceable things from my youth.”
—From the victim-impact statement of Felicia, minor prostitute-stripper enslaved by trafficker Corey Davis.
“Prostitution is renting an organ for ten minutes.”
—A john, interviewed by research psychologist Melissa Farley.
“Would you please write down the type of person you think I am, given all that you’ve heard and read?… I’ve been called the worst of the worst by the government and it’s going to be hard for you to top that.”
—Letter postmarked June 27, 2008, to Amy Fine Collins, from Dennis Paris, a.k.a. “Rahmyti,” then inmate at the Wyatt Detention Facility, in Central Falls, Rhode Island, now at a high-security federal penitentiary in Arizona.
The Little Barbies
In the Sex Crimes Bureau of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, in the pediatric division of Fort Bragg’s Womack Army Medical Center, in the back alleys of Waterbury, Connecticut, and in the hallways of Hartford’s Community Court, Assistant D.A. Rhonnie Jaus, forensic pediatrician Dr. Sharon Cooper, ex-streetwalker Louise, and Judge Curtissa Cofield have all simultaneously and independently noted the same disturbing phenomenon. There are more young American girls entering the commercial sex industry—an estimated 300,000 at this moment—and their ages have been dropping drastically. “The average starting age for prostitution is now 13,” says Rachel Lloyd, executive director of Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (gems), a Harlem-based organization that rescues young women from “the life.” Says Judge Cofield, who formerly presided over Hartford’s Prostitution Protocol, a court-ordered rehabilitation program, “I call them the Little Barbies.”
[continues at Vanity Fair]