Ashton Kutcher and the Problem of Underage Prostitutes
In numerous tweets blasting Village Voice Media, Ashton Kutcher never once mentioned shelter and counseling for underage prostitutes.
Our cover story this week on human trafficking exposed the scare statistics that Kutcher and wife, Demi Moore, flog to hype their pitch. Their numbers are bogus.
The article also covered legislation which, for the first time, would devote federal funding to providing beds and assistance to underage victims of prostitution.
America does not lose 100,000 to 300,000 children to prostitution annually as Kutcher and sex prohibitionists allege. That is simply a lie.
The lie has been used to obtain millions of dollars in Congressional funding to raise awareness of human trafficking by advertising, lobbying and numerous outreach programs.
If there is not a tsunami of underage prostitutes in America, that is not to say that there are no children trapped in this world. Of course there are.
And yet, as we pointed out in our story, not a penny has been spent to shelter the victims.
If you want to help these kids there is something you can do.
U. S. Senate Bill 596 deserves your attention and your support.
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced SB 596 on March 16, 2011. The key component is six one year grants of $2,000,000 to $2.500,000 for shelter and counseling.
As you can imagine, a child engaged in prostitution brings a difficult mix of issues to the table including, but not limited to, drug addiction, sexual abuse, homelessness. These are problems that need sustained attention.
In the article that triggered Kutcher's twitter onslaught we cited The Bridge program in Seattle, which in one of the few efforts in the entire country devoted to housing underage prostitutes. (The Bridge is financed locally.)
"These children, as victims, need more trauma-recovery services, " director Melinda Giovengo told us. "There is evidence that a dedicated residential recovery program, with wraparound mental health, chemical dependence, and educational and vocational services, provided by well-trained specialists, both on-site and in the community, can help young victims of commercial sexual exploitation in breaking free of the track."
There are fewer than 100 beds scattered across the nation dedicated to these children.
The $15 million proposed by Senators Cornyn and Wyden are cold, hard numbers. Facts.
Facts are important if you want to address underage prostitution.
One of the messages in response to our article and Kutcher's tweets read in part: "... Who gives a damn if the number (100,00 to 300,000) is correct or not! If they manage to help at least one person..."
With all due respect, we give a damn.
Since 1997 the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars for religious groups, prohibitionists, and reformers all over the world to end human trafficking. Yet the proposed funds in SB 596 are the first dollars earmarked to put a roof over the head of victims in America.
'If they manage to help at least one person...' is a bumper sticker, not a plan for action.
In America tens of thousands of people are killed every year on the nation's roadways. But we do not ban automobiles to save at least one person...
By painting the sex-trafficking problem in this country as overwhelming, advocates may actually be hurting the children who truly need help. If 300,000 children are enslaved, surely we need sweeping new laws and massive action.
And so, instead of helping victims, states are now passing legislation aimed at suppressing cabaret dancers. Instead of helping victims, prohibitionists are attacking pornography.
Facts are important because facts, not emotion, keep you focused.
The facts regarding underage prostitution are addressed by Senators Cornyn and Wyden.
And if Kutcher ever gets over being called out for not doing his homework, perhaps he might message his followers that meaningful legislation needs their support.
How to reach Senators Cornyn and Wyden
Senator John Cornyn:
The Honorable John Cornyn
United States Senate
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4303
Email: Cornyn doesn't have a direct email address, but you can send him an e-mail if you fill out a contact form with name, address, etc.:
Senator Ron Wyden
The Honorable Ron Wyden
United States Senator
223 Dirksen State Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3703
Contact form (email): http://wyden.senate.gov/contact/