March Against Child Sex Trafficking

To combat the sex trafficking of children in Los Angeles County, and to put their buyers and sellers on notice that trafficking will not be tolerated, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas is sponsoring an evening march on November 21 along Long Beach Boulevard.

“I encourage anyone who is concerned about the welfare of our children to join us Friday, November 21,” said the Chairman. “A concerned community must turn out to let these victims know we care, tell the neighborhood that this blight will not be tolerated and to send a warning to the customers and traffickers that we are watching you and we will come after you.”

On any given day along a stretch of Long Beach Boulevard that traverses the cities of Compton, Lynwood and into South Gate, scores of young girls can be seen walking along in short skirts and tight tops while older men in cars slow down to arrange a purchase. It continues to be called prostitution, yet in many cases it is not – it is actually the sex trafficking of children.  Trafficking is an increasingly sophisticated and lucrative trade that is now largely run by gangs as part of a criminal enterprise.  With victims often expected to have sex with as many as 20 adult men per night, and a nightly quota set by the pimp to bring in between $1,000 to $3,500 per day, it is also becoming more profitable than drug dealing.

These victims are controlled by pimps who beat them, threaten them and manipulate them into selling their bodies.  They are typically U.S. citizens, including adults, girls, boys, and transgender youth.  Although less common, immigrants may also be victimized. Their buyers also are typical: Married, middle class men with a job and a college education.

As Rachel Lloyd, founder and executive director of the anti-sex trafficking nonprofit group GEMS, said to the Polaris Project, a sex trafficking monitoring group. “Throughout the U.S., girls are being bought and sold by adults to adults. Girls are sold on the streets, in strip-clubs, brothels, truck-stops and with increasing frequency on internet sites like Craigslist and Backpage.”

In Los Angeles County, an estimated 3,000 children are trafficked for sex. Some are runaways, others are in the foster care system, others are duped into the trade by pimps and traffickers who pretend to be boyfriends – many have been assaulted and raped early in life, and believe they deserve nothing better.

While much of the trafficking happens online, a great deal also occurs along popular “tracks” such as Long Beach Boulevard and Figueroa Street. Along these stretches, in alleys and run-down motels, men pay to have sex with girls as young as 12. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, on any given weekend night as many as 1,000 cars line up along Long Beach Boulevard as men wait to buy sex with children.

Click here to download the flyer in English.  Click here to download the flyer in Spanish.

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