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Sex trade offers lessons

It’s a shame every Spokane parent was not able to sit in on a discussion held April 23 under the auspices of the Inland Northwest Task Force on Human Trafficking. Portland police Officer Meaghan Burkeen, an expert on the international sex trade, warned that naive towns like Spokane are preferred recruiting places for pimps who draw girls as young as 12 into prostitution.

Pimps hang around malls and junior high schools, striking up conversations, searching for girls with a low estimate of their own value. The pimp restores self-esteem with flattery. He also knows his target girl is likely to be in conflict with her family and so craves love. So he pretends to love her.

Burkeen said the idea that prostitutes are kept in the thrall of their masters through drugs is largely a myth. Pimps actually try to keep drug use down, since drugs destroy a body that has high commercial value.

What Burkeen and the rest of us have not been able to explain is: If pimps can rebuild self-esteem, steer children away from drugs and make them feel loved, why can’t we?

Bill Stimson