By Thanh Tan, Times Editorial Columnist, on November 20, 2014—
“How many of us associate the word “pimp” with cable reality shows about fancy cars rather than a trade that exploits vulnerable human beings?
“It used to be a noun, someone who managed people in prostitution,” says Leslie Briner ofYouthCare, who has trained more than 3,500 individuals to fight the commercial sexual exploitation of children. “Now it is a verb used to promote and improve something. That, to me, is the height of normalizing this behavior.”
Here’s the new normal: Pimps in the traditional sense still recruit and solicit customers on the streets, but much of the sex industry in Washington has migrated online. Gangs are involved. Kids are selling themselves. Some of the most gut-wrenching stories involve parents soliciting their own children.
In this unfettered online market, grown men play dumb and pretend they have no idea that the “daddy’s little girl” they ordered up for sex may be 12 years old.
The disconnect is disturbing. A 2008 studyestimated 300 to 500 Seattle-area children work in prostitution each night, but those numbers are likely much higher. The Internet has amplified demand.
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