Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Saving Our Girls from Oakland's Streets

Busting Prostitution Myths and Who’s Pimping the Pimp?

Melissa Farley
Photo Credit Jenee Darden
“It takes a village to create prostitution and it takes a village to stop it,” Melissa Farley argued in her presentation. She was one of the speakers at Allen Temple Baptist Church’s community meeting on the sex trafficking crisis in Oakland. Farley is the executive director of Prostitution Research and Education in San Francisco. I applaud her work. I'm sure some of you are surprised that such an organization exists. But someone has to do it to inform and help save lives.  Farley has interviewed johns and women in prostitution all over the world. She changed my stance on legalizing prostitution when she dropped some info about Nevada, where the “oldest profession” is legal.

“Nevada has some of the highest rates of rapes in the U.S. because boys there are taught to see women as natural prostitutes,” said Farley.

Another light bulb moment for me was when Farley asked us what does a pimp look like. Think about it. What face comes to mind when you see a pimp? Is he young? Is he black? Does he rock a gold chain, a cane and walk with swag? Farley showed us a picture of an old white man with a plain collared shirt from Washington state. He ran a prostitution ring through his strip clubs throughout the state. “Prostitution is organized crime a lot of time,” said Farley. She explained to us that mafias partner with local thugs who monitor the girls on the streets. Are the small-time pimps being pimped by the crime bosses? Regardless, Farley said the sex trade is a billion dollar industry, especially in light of the weak economy (Hmmmm...reminds me of when Nola Brantley of MiSSSEY spoke about selling girls on the street has become more profitable than pushing crack)

We know that pimps are bringing in the dollars, but what about the girls and women? Think about the images of prostitutes. Some are high class, others are in poor neighborhoods. According to Farley, there is a hierarchy of prostitution. She said only 2% of women and girls are “high-class prostitutes.” You know the ones whose clients shell out the big bucks like Richard Gere’s character in “Pretty Woman.” “They’re doing it voluntarily. Usually they’re not women of color, they have backup options, class and race privilege,” Farley said. Well Farley killed that “Pretty Woman” fairytale, because that’s not reality for most women and girls. She reported that 48% of women and girls in the trade are those who can’t provide for their families. Often they are victims of molestation and incest as children, they’re trying to escape a violent relationship. I was surprised that some of these women have children with special needs and they need the money for care.

Sadly 50% of women in prostitution are in captivity. On average, a prostitute is raped once a week. It’s a lot to take in. I felt somewhat overwhelmed as I drove home because I had some idea of the story behind those children standing on the corner in tight pants and wigs looking for sex to survive. Little girls are supposed to be going to the mall with their friends and shopping for Justin Beiber posters. We MUST save our girls Oakland. We MUST save our girls.

2 comments:

  1. This is so, so sad.. I've lived in different parts of Oakland for 9 years but most of the 'tutes I've seen were older bedraggled ladies in West O. But girls? Little girls?? Thousands? Is there really that high of a demand? It's horrific whether is 5 or 1000, but it's hard to imagine so many in this relatively small city. Thank you for this information, though it saddens me deeply..

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Ceebee,
    I had no idea that there were thousands of girls on the streets either. I knew it was bad when I saw a documentary about Oakland on MSNBC but I had no idea it was this bad until I moved back. The cop who spoke at the Allen Temple Event said the number has jumped from hundreds to thousands.

    Readers can see that here.
    http://www.cocoafly.com/2011/04/saving-our-girls-from-oaklands-streets_13.html

    Thank you for your response.

    ReplyDelete

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