About 10,000 children each year suffer the horrors of commercial sexual exploitation in the U.S. reports the Indianapolis Star. Globally, according to the International Labour Organization, buyers pay to abuse more than 1 million children a year. The buyers are seldom held accountable. Most leave behind their victims to blend back into their families, jobs and neighborhoods. Child trafficking is a business driven like any other by supply and demand. Most efforts to stop the scourge focus on the supply side — rescuing victims and prosecuting traffickers. The critical need to reduce demand has gained far less attention and money.
The result is that buyers continue to abuse children with near impunity. The Star describes the case of a 15-year-old girl who was forced to take a “nightmarish six-week trek” across the southern U.S. in 2015. She was beaten and raped repeatedly. At a hospital in St. Louis, the abuse finally ended when the girl was identified as a sex trafficking victim. Her abductors, Marcus and Robin Thompson, are serving prison terms. U.S. District Judge Michael Reagan described the couple’s crimes as among the worst he had seen in 16 years on the bench.