Tuesday, 10 September 2013
There is currently a criminal trial unfolding in Ottawa that has captured the interest of many.
It is unusual because it involves girls under the age of 16 pressured, blackmailed and physically coerced into sex work by pimps who are also girls — barely older than their victims.
Two of the three adolescents standing trial for 74 charges including human trafficking, forcible confinement and procuring for prostitution, are 16 years old; the other is 17.
This is an account from a young woman who evaded cajoling then threats from a Facebook acquaintance, and alleged pimp.
The clients who are testifying have likely been promised a reduced sentence for having sex with minor children, or amnesty from prosecution.
Something doesn't quite sit right with me, though. This scheme to recruit and force girls into prostitution goes quite beyond the high school bullying, ostracism and cruelty that we know teenage girls are capable of doing.
This is way beyond _Mean Girls_ territory, this is a sophisticated, complex and well-executed business plan.
Are there older individuals behind this profitable enterprise whose identities the young women have not disclosed? As with Fagin's abuse of homeless children, criminal organizations have made it a practice to enlist and train juveniles to run their money-making illegal schemes. If the under-age kids are arrested, charged, prosecuted and found guilty, their sentencing is usually light.
This trial may be a delicately orchestrated attempt to flush out the adults behind this criminal business scheme. If the prosecution succeeds, and the girls are found guilty of these charges, there may be some plea bargaining involved to encourage them to give up their patrons, the people who bankrolled them, helped them develop their enterprise, trained them in the fine art of physical brutality, and shared the profits without any of the risks.
If this is indeed the case, these adult participants are people well versed in the intricate aspects of criminal law and jurisprudence. The girls may not reveal who they are; a combination of eventual rewards, emotional coercion and fear of physical reprisals may buy their silence.
Photo credit: from the above-mentioned, feminist film about female adolescent angst, including a propensity for dressing up in fetish drag.
UPDATE: The young woman who testified yesterday, providing details about one of the alleged pimp's campaign to recruit her through Facebook communications, may have done something the defense lawyer will exploit to his clients' advantage.