The Myth of the All-Girl, Pimp-Controlled Trafficking Trade

Lost Boys: New child-sex-trafficking research demolishes the stereotype of the underage sex worker.

The only children who were questioned about sex work were girls. Boys were never screened.

"The problem was very narrowly defined from the outset," says Finn.

"I'm a feminist scholar," she goes on. "I understand the importance of these advocates — who are predominantly women, predominantly concerned about the plight of girls — wanting to retain that focus on that issue. But as a researcher, knowing that this is labeled as 'child exploitation,' and knowing that there are numbers in other cities showing boys are being victimized, I had to argue that this was maybe a small but significant population we had to look at."

Researchers Ric Curtis and Meredith Dank induced hundreds of New York's underage sex workers to open up about their "business." Their findings upended the conventional wisdom -- and galled narrow-minded advocates.
Ashlie Quinones
Researchers Ric Curtis and Meredith Dank induced hundreds of New York's underage sex workers to open up about their "business." Their findings upended the conventional wisdom -- and galled narrow-minded advocates.
Curtis and Dank relied upon a method of social networking that was anything but electronic: Interview subjects were given coupons to pass out to peers and collected $10 for each successful referral.
Ashlie Quinones
Curtis and Dank relied upon a method of social networking that was anything but electronic: Interview subjects were given coupons to pass out to peers and collected $10 for each successful referral.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Village Voice Media, which owns this publication, owns the classified site In addition to used cars, jobs and couches, readers can also find adult ads on Backpage; for this reason, certain activists and clergy members have called attention to the site, sometimes going so far as to call for its closure.

Certainly we have a stake in this discussion. And we do not object to those who suggest an apparent conflict of interest. We sat quietly and did not respond as activists held symposiums across America—from Seattle to Miami—denouncing Backpage. Indeed, we were never asked for response.

But then we looked at the "science" behind many of these activists' claims, and the media's willingness, without question, to regurgitate a litany of incredible statistics. In the interest of a more informed discussion, we decided to write.

Finn soon found herself facing a dilemma on the research front as well.

When Curtis and Dank put out the call for underage sex workers in New York, they were confident they'd be able to find space in an emergency shelter if they encountered an interview subject who appeared to be in immediate peril. Atlanta, on the other hand, was equipped with no emergency shelters for homeless youths. In the absence of any such backstop, Finn concluded, it would be unethical to go hunting for kids to interview.

So she went with Plan B: interviewing law-enforcement agents and social workers; examining arrest records; and mining a countywide database of child-sexual-abuse cases.

Despite the less-than-satisfactory secondary-source approach, Finn figured she'd have plenty of data to mine. After all, she'd seen breathless media reports of trafficking in Atlanta. "The overall market for sex with kids is booming in many parts of the U.S. In Atlanta — a thriving hotel and convention center with a sophisticated airport and ground transportation network — pimps and other lowlifes have tapped into that market bigtime," blared a 2006 New York Times story.

"I walked in thinking: This is going to be a huge priority for any agency that is dealing with at-risk youth. I mean, goodness, this must be at the top of their agenda for training, protocol — all of it."

On the contrary, Finn found that most organizations, whether nonprofit or government run, were not systematically documenting cases of child prostitution. Apart from 31 juvenile arrests police had made over a four-year period, there were virtually no numbers for her to compile.

"It was almost like nobody wants to document their existence," Finn says. "Whether it's because they don't want to label the youth, or they don't want other agencies to know they're aware of them because then the call comes — 'Well, what are you doing about it?' — I just don't know. It was very odd. The environment we were seeing in the media just looked so different from the environment we walked into."

In September 2008, just as Finn was preparing a summary of her scant findings, the Juvenile Justice Fund announced an ongoing statewide study based on "scientific probability methods," whose results to date pointed to "a significant number of adolescent girls being commercially sexually exploited in Georgia, likely ranging from 200 to 300 girls, on the streets, over the Internet, through escort services and in major hotels every month from August 2007 to May 2008."

Published in 2010, the final report was nearly as ambiguous, though there were more — and even bigger — numbers. According to the Justice Fund's "scientific research study," underwritten with money from the Anderson Family Foundation, each month in Georgia, 7,200 men pay underage girls for 8,700 sex acts, "with an average of 300 acts a day." The report's authors updated their 2008 stat, increasing their underage-hooker count to 400.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution trumpeted the report's findings under the headline "City's shame remains; despite crackdowns, Atlanta is still a hub in selling children for sex."

The Journal-Constitution did not, however, inform its readers that the "scientific study" was undertaken not by researchers adhering to rigid academic standards, but by the Schapiro Group, an Atlanta public-relations firm hired by the Justice Fund.

Despite the claims to the contrary, there was nothing remotely "scientific" about the research. In order to gauge the number of men who pay for sex with underage girls, the PR firm observed activity at major hotels and on streets thought to be frequented by sex workers. Staffers also called escort services, posing as customers, to inquire into the possibility of hookups with adolescent girls. And they created online ads featuring photos of young-looking females and inviting prospective customers to call a phone number — a line answered by PR firm "operators" posing as pimps and madams. (For more about the Schapiro Group's dubious methods, see "Weird Science," written by Nick Pinto and published in the March 24 issue of the Dallas Observer.)

Mary Finn is troubled by the murky provenance of the statistics, but more so by the time and effort wasted on sensationalizing a problem instead of addressing it.

"This shouldn't be a race to the top," she contends. "We should be mobilized for a single victimization. Why do we need 300, or 500, or 1,000, to mobilize as a community?

"I guess that's what is most disheartening about the [dubious] numerical information that's coming out: We may not be putting resources where we need to put them, because we don't have a clear grasp of what the underlying problem is."

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$500,000 government GRANT for some Academic to "study" street people about a waste of money and a phoney "researcher" fit to the task....WORTHLESS


Though I applaud the efforts of this team and the years they dedicated to their story, it surprises me that the so-called "experts" are still asking the question - "why do the kids do this sort of thing?". The answers are IN THEIR STORY! These kids don't see any other way out of their poverty stricken life. And with no role models to guide them, THEY literally begin to follow other kids OR adults who have been in the "trade" since THEY were kids themselves! And to think that opening a "center" to try and "save" these kids is the answer - IT'S NOT! Take a look at this scenario - "Kid has been living the streets for well over a year now (if not longer) earning anywhere from $20 to $50 bucks per John/Trick daily with a "take home pay" of $20 to $150/per day. You take kid off the streets, clean him/her up through this "program", expect kid to take on a minumum wage job earning $7.25 to $8.25/per hour with a take home pay of $220 to $250/per week, attend some training school, all for the sake of "cleaning up", move into a place that'll take most of his/her wages, left with practically nothing to survive on - A smart street kid would laugh you out of the room!!! "You want met to do what? and earn how much?" Get real! And all for the sake of living a more clean and safe life. This is reality not the movies. And reality sucks for these kids but it's the only life they know. And though I'm all for saving as many as we can,.....the REALITY is, it's gonna be a lot harder than it looks. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink".

Where are the Slaves
Where are the Slaves

Where are all the underage children kidnapped and forced against their will by a pimp to have sex with the general public for money?

Where are all the Dallas Super Bowl 2011 child sex slaves? Let's talk to them.

How come we don’t see any of the forced victims themselves complaining about it? Why don’t the “millions of forced against their will child victims” talk about how they were kidnapped and forced against their will by a evil pimp to have sex for profit? I would like to have a interview with the “millions of forced against their will raped kidnapped child victims” So I could hear their stories.

Where are they? Why do we only hear from the anti-prostitution groups that received money and grants from the government, and not the millions of victims themselves? If there are Millions of them, Shouldn't the police and public know where they are, and shouldn't we hear the millions of victims speak?

Instead, none are found.

Do all men really love raping children who are kicking, crying and screaming, with no one willing to help? like the anti-prostitution groups say?




Also, it bothers me that once again, the focus is on MONEY and the KIDS. Why won't anyone go after the "johns"? I have zero concern for anyone who picks up prostitutes. It's still immoral to go after kids, but why people still do it at all is a mystery. There is literally anyone available to do anything, any type of person, any where, what with the Internet. Excepting with kids, its more stupid than illegal or immoral to do this anyway. Sort of like buying blackberries at the store when you have a blackberry tree outside....As for the foreign element, that would take our government asking more questions and using more bodies and firepower and that will never happen, it seems. And I have never heard of straight boys doing any prostitution. I guess it must exist but wow, I have never heard of a case of a grown woman picking up a teenage boy on the streets.


There is an important thing the authors of this new study, and many others in this article are's that "pimps" have been effectively slowed down over the years by several things:1. shift in attitudes and public policy, 2. greater sentencing, 3. a more sexually active young woman, willing to engage in sex in a sort of "kept woman" situation and 4. as the article shows, a more saavy youth willing to control their own business, in a sense. The focus seems to be on how much money is thrown at a particular type of exploited youth. I wish all these folks realized that the "stereotypical" child prostitute has merely CHANGED. Not putting any emphasis on exploited girls (which I am sure is coming) will simply increase this happening again. A balanced approach is needed.


Myth?? Really?? What I find so rediculous about this article and its title is that underage prostitutes aren't going to be found simply by staking out a corner in New York and passing out contact information. Maybe that would be an effective tactic if they were merely trying to get a general idea of the ages and motivations of street prostitutes but as far as the sex trafficking trade goes, it's all highly illegal, highly secretive and the pimps aren't simply going to allow these kids to roam the streets. They are kidnapped, imprisoned and sold. I can't even begin to say how many articles I've read about young girls from Mexico disappearing and either being found beaten and raped, discovered in a hidden basement in some run down shack or never found at all. If the writers at The Dallas Observer really wanted to debunk any "myths", they need to invest a bit more effort than simply handing out fliers in the street. I also find it reprehensible that the supposed numbers and statistics are in question to begin with. Who cares?? Why don't we just do whatever we can to, if not stop it, put a dent in their profits and anonymity.

W.Ross Bs. BME
W.Ross Bs. BME

Let's try a new approach: Who, in the reading audience, has had a time in their own life in which they would have prostituted themselves in order to financially save themselves? At what age?

Iam Skycake
Iam Skycake

Why don't they just interview the johns that use the underage prostitutes. I suggest they check the local churches and then republican headquarters.


If there were not johns, There would be no sex trade. I think tht johns should be the first arrest and mandatory 5 years in jail. Then the one selling the addiction. Should be arrested and given 5 years in jail. Then when both get out send each to a island for another 5 years, for rehab, and sterilization.And therir pimps should be hung on the spot.


The scarily unstated conclusion? What's getting these kids into the sex trade isn't sleazy, foreign pimps; it's us as a society. It's a shitty economy, failed social services, abusive social workers/cops; and politicians, charities and projects who care more about the appearance of doing good and what they think is going on than actually helping these kids out.

The Myth of Sex Trafficking
The Myth of Sex Trafficking

Super Bowl 2011:

According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????

It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, A Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women’s Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation, which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations.

As proved in the link below:Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.

“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”

This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

The idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, is bad. No matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

While this may happen in very rare limited situations, the media will say that millions of people are sex slaves without doing any real research on the topic. Only taking the word of special interest anti-prostitution groups which need to generate money in the form of huge government grants from taxpayers, and charities. These “non profit” group’s employees make huge salaries, therefore they need to lobby the government, and inflate and invent victims in order to get more money into their organizations. If you look into how many real kidnapped forced against their will sex slaves there are, and not just take the anti-prostitution groups word for it. You will be very surprised.Where are all the forced sex slaves? I would like to meet the millions of slaves and see for myself if they were kidnapped and forced against their will.

These groups lobby the government in a big way, getting Politicians to truly believe their lies. This is an attempt to over inflate an issue in order to get more government money to these organizations. As a tax payer, voter, and resident I don’t want the government to mislead me.

I would like to see a news organization do a full report on the lies, myths and exaggerated numbers being told about sex trafficking slaves. The articles about the super bowl sex slaves, has been proved wrong many times, but news organizations still report about it, as if it were fact.

== World Cup 2006 ==

Politicians, religious and aid groups, still repeat the media story that 40,000 prostitutes were trafficked into Germany for the 2006 world cup – long after leaked police documents revealed there was no truth at all in the tale. A baseless claim of 25,000 trafficking victims is still being quoted, recently, for example, by the Salvation Army in written evidence to the home affairs select committee, in which they added: “Other studies done by media have suggested much higher numbers.” Which has been proven by the German police to be completely false. Yet people still talk about these false numbers as if it were fact.

==World Cup 2010 ==Again using the made up number of 40,000 prostitutes trafficked:

The behavior of fans in South Africa has run contrary to what was predicted prior to the start of the tournament after David Bayever told World Cup organizers in March it was feared that up to 40,000 extra prostitutes could converge in the host nation to meet the expected demand. Bayever, deputy chairperson of South Africa’s Central Drug Authority (CDA) that advises on drug abuse but also works with prostitutes, warned: “Forty-thousand new prostitutes. As if we do not have enough people of our own, we have to import them to ensure our visitors are entertained.”

But the tournament in 2010, if anything, has seen the modern-day soccer fan attracted to art galleries and museums over brothels.

A trend that has seen a drop in revenue across the board for the prostitution industry, which is illegal in South Africa. “Zobwa,” the chairperson of Sisonke — an action group representing around 70 street prostitutes in Johannesburg — said business had been down over the last month. “The World Cup has been devastating. We thought it was going to be a cash cow but it’s chased a lot of the business away. It’s been the worst month in my company’s history,” the owner and founder of one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive escort companies told CNN.

In recent years, every time there has been a major international sporting event, a group of government officials, campaigning feminists, pliant journalists and NGOs have claimed that the movement of thousands of men to strange foreign countries where there will be lots of alcohol and horniness will result in the enslavement of women for the purposes of sexual pleasure. Obviously. And every time they have simply doubled the made-up scare figures from the last international sporting event, to make it look like this problem of sport/sex/slavery gets worse year on year. Yet each year it is proved false.

This myth tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in. These anti-prostitution groups need to in invent a victim that does not exist in order to get press attention.

Here are some good websites about sex trafficking:





well.....ONCE I had to ACTUALLY do some PHYSICAL labor to earn money.....gosh....hardly makes the monthly fee for a cell phone, or price of a Starbucks latte!!


The trouble with these arguments is they seem to be a copy paste that a madam/pimp who admitted to selling people, pastes over and over again all over the web. It sure does sound like her all over again here, or someone who copies the same info she does. She does not seem to have anything else to do when not selling people. So she spends a lot of time trying to discredit victims. Dig far enough back and you can find on her sites that she mocks and humiliates victims of assault, and flat out says that victims who identify themselves with a trauma history are liars. This was the Village Voice Dllas Observer research point woman for one of their last attacks on anti-traffickers. Yes, they went to a woman who mocks assault victims and calls victims who speak out liars. Gross. And don't forget that the Village Voice/Dallas Observer owned back pages got busted with ads where minors were sold. They have a lot to cover up here and their agendas are totally, obviously corrupt.

Myth of sex trafficking
Myth of sex trafficking

Really? What evidence do you have to make these claims?

Who admitted to selling people?

Show us where the person you are talking about admitted to selling people.

...and who are you talking about?

It is amazing how you make up statements, and lie.