As child sex trafficking expands as a source of money for San Diego gangs, there’s an effort to make it easier for prosecutors to go after pimps.
The way California law is written now, prosecutors have to prove force or coercion when a sex trafficking victim is younger than 18. Because so many victims are lured by pimps through emotional bribery or promises of work, it’s been difficult for prosecutors to prove trafficking.
Susan Munsey is with the nonprofit group Generate Hope which helps trafficking victims get back on their feet. She said Assembly Bill 90, which changes the standard of proof from forced to encouraged or persuaded, is badly needed.
"About 50 percent of pimping and pandering is gang involved. The existing law gives them very little consequence," Munsey said.
Child sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing means of enslavement in the United States.
The average age of entry for victims of child sex trafficking is 12 years old. Girls are recruited by pimps in middle school, high school and off the web. In fact, San Diego is the eighth largest city for child prostitution according to an FBI audit.
Munsey said despite those sobering numbers, many victims must cope on their own if they’re able to leave their pimps.
“In San Diego, we have very little that’s available for women who wan to leave the sex trade," Munsey said. "They have no place to go if they should find a way to escape.”
GenerateHope is hosting a fundraiser Saturday called Girl Interrupted.