Not only are Syrian girls as young as 15 with refugee status being sold into marriage, the marriages are effectively shams and more apparently, sexual servitude -- whereby the wealthy husband divorces his wife after a few days.
In New York, a person who commits statutory rape receives a higher penalty than a person who buys sex from that same child, signaling that the child who has been bought is less worthy of protection. It is time that Albany sets aside politics and protects people.
Many argue that Somaly Mam did a lot to focus attention on the plight of these children even if she was lying about her own circumstances and, indeed, she did. But now it turns out that may have caused irreparable damage.
So may the righteous anger over the Boko Haram crime inspire a renewed commitment to eradicating slavery. While we wait and hope for the rescue of the Nigerian girls, let us also mobilize on behalf of the millions who did not appear in the headlines.
If we could do half as good a job of creating a meaningful taboo in the United States around buying and selling young people for sex as we do around smoking, we'd be so much further along the road to eliminating demand.
Such bonds can be harder to break than handcuffs, especially when a young person has been told for years that they aren't worth anything, and they have few skills, no diplomas, and few prospects for supporting themselves outside the sex industry.
Our journey began in March 2013 with the creation of Project Impact, an arts-based leadership workshop for teen trafficking survivors. We spent three months working with the 15-18 year-old residents of JCCA's Gateways
If we want to fight the sexual exploitation of young people, we absolutely must fight youth homelessness. Kids who don't have a safe place to stay enter a direct pipeline to the pimps and exploiters who recognize their desperation and are waiting to prey on them.
While there are no firm numbers of how much the forced sex and labor trade expands during the week of the Super Bowl, the influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors means more homeless kids may be put at risk. And make no mistake, vulnerable kids are at risk.
Once in a while, an opportunity comes along for everyone to take an action to save a life. And it won't hurt a bit. You don't even have to step away from your screen. And I'm asking you to do it Wednesday.
LOVE146--an international charity that provides aftercare and rehabilitation for children rescued from sexual slavery--has collaborated with Nashville-based rock group Band of Love on a new video to increase public awareness on this issue.