Payback Time

Here's how it works: Little red riding hood gets abused at home. Then she meets the man of her dreams. (Sometimes this happens after she runs away to escape the abuse, since wolves hang out in bus stations, scanning for prey. Or maybe it happens outside her middle school for delinquent girls. Opportunities are many.) Wolf showers girl with attention, love, sexual passion—all the things she's been starved for all her life. Then, after a few weeks, he asks her to prove her love by going out on the street or meeting men solicited on, where code words are used to signal that she's well under 18, so they can pay for their apartment, or food, or whatever it might be. Within another few weeks, her body is being sold eight to twelve hours a day. Her captivity is enforced by violence, isolation, coercion, branding, and constant supervision. After awhile, she's convinced that she's worthless, that no one else will ever love her, that police will arrest her and civilians would blame her, not the wolf.

There are a lot of horror stories. If you're like me and want to face the worst in people head on, you can see the films—for instance, Very Young Girls or Playground—or read the stories

But at this particular moment, I'm just a teensy bit gleeful. A Houston judge has served up some real justice: 

Last week, U.S. district judge Lynn Hughes set an important legal precedent in the fight against human trafficking in the U.S. He ruled that five teenaged survivors of sex slavery in Houston will receive the entire proceeds from the sale of their traffickers’ property. As U.S. prosecutors have until now been mostly unsuccessful in getting traffickers’ assets seized, this precedent sends a strong message to other traffickers: If they get caught, they’ll lose everything they own.

Do read the whole story. And then go back to GEMS, or the Polaris Project, or some other organization that's combating the sexual exploitation of children. Figure out how you can help little red riding hood escape the big bad wolf. 


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