Child Labor in the United States does not readily come to mind when one brings up human rights or social injustice issues. After the Fair Labor Standards Acts was passed in 1938, largely due to groups like The National Child Labor Committee, institutionally endorsed use of children for labor in the US was virtually wiped out. Globally, child labor is still an enormous issue. 8.4 million children are involved in work that the ILO Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention defines as unacceptable for children. This includes the trafficking of children for debt bondage, forced labor, armed conflict, and the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). In the United States, roughly 199,000 incidents of CSEC take place each year according to a study released by Estes & Weiner in 2001. (CLEP)
Children have historically been used as laborers for a few reasons, including their increased accessibility into smaller spaces (like broken down machines) and the ease of which it is to abuse them without risking organized resistance. However, the number one reason for using children is that employers have routinely considered them to be cheaper labor than adults. Because of their age, they have been considered to be cost-effective.
This view is still prevalent among perpetrators of CSEC today, only on a more disturbing level.
As a toddler, I could play dress-up with the best of them. Almost as soon as I’d learned to walk I made it a practice of donning my grandmother’s high-heels and parading around the back patio, bottle-in-hand, likely with more grace and poise than I could muster now in such footwear. Like many other little girls, I’d watch my mother putting on her make-up and beg for her to share some lipstick or blush. Dressing up was a way to mirror the beauty of the women in my life, and the same is still true for many young girls.
Why does our culture continue to raise men who think it is ok to buy sex?
One of the most troubling truths in the issue of sex trafficking is that the demand is seemingly endless. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal business in the world, second only to drugs. The most agreed-upon statistics for the global profits earned from human trafficking (calculations seen in the 2005 report from the International Labour Office report by Patrick Besler) equal US $32 billion. Of that number, $28 billion comes from sex trafficking. The business runs with a backbone similar to any other market: supply and demand. Demand in this context is men who are willing to purchase. Back to the original point, there is a horribly high percentage of people in this world who see nothing wrong with buying sex.