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Archive for July 24th, 2012

…the little house was built entirely from bread with a roof made of cake, and the windows were made of clear sugar.  –  Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

It’s been a while since I dissected a news article line by line, but then it’s been a while since I’ve found one which cries out for it so loudly.  Though distorted and inverted language (such as work referred to as “being purchased”, the majority called a minority, self-determination called “demeaning” and infantilization of women excused as “feminism”) is the norm in mainstream American discourse about sex work, this story yet stands out for its nightmarish use of euphemisms to disguise incarceration, abuse and reprogramming:

On the outskirts of the city, a two-story lodge with a wraparound porch is largely hidden on a 110-acre site in the woods.  Horses graze in front of the building, and a volleyball court and educational center stand behind.  Down winding paths, are a ropes course, pool and lake.  But the name of the recently opened facility, Freedom Place, cannot be found, and its address is undisclosed:  It is the state’s first privately run safe house that provides long-term housing for American girls who are victims of sex trafficking.  The shelter represents a new solution for state legislators and county officials as they try to figure out how best to support such victims…

What a lovely picture!  Almost like a summer camp, except for the locked doors; as you will see, its name is straight out of Orwell.  But the gingerbread isn’t really there to attract victims, but rather to please the state officials who want a dumping ground for nonconforming girls that doesn’t look like a jail.

…In Texas, the effort to end sex trafficking of minors has shifted since the Texas Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that domestic minors younger than 14 involved in prostitution should be considered victims rather than criminals.  Recent legislation changed the label for kids charged with prostitution from “delinquent” to “child in need of supervision” and allowed for these records to be sealed…but Texas has no “safe harbor” laws that establish a systematic response for placing minors into necessary rehabilitation services without criminalization.  As such, Texas counties have different methods in place for collaboration between local nonprofits, police enforcement and court systems to transition girls into treatment.  Child Protective Services is usually involved only if the child is being directly trafficked by a family member.

The word “trafficked” is beginning to lose all meaning, and as I’ve pointed out before this is particularly true in Texas; officials and media in the Lone Star State appear to use the term randomly, without logic or consistency.  Here it seems to mean “forced into prostitution”, but elsewhere it refers to transportation across state lines.  Note also the lawhead delusion that re-labeling a “delinquent” as a “child in need…”  and criminalization as “rehabilitation” changes the actual fact of incarceration.

Girls can often be distrustful or so manipulated by their trafficker that they leave if not placed in secure facilities.  Many of the young victims who are not charged with prostitution must be charged with related offenses such as drug possession or truancy to ensure that they are not released back onto the street…“Most girls are so, for lack of a better word, enslaved by their pimps and traffickers, including their minds, that as soon as you put them into a facility that is not secure or if you send them home that is just inviting them to go straight back to their pimp,” said Patricia Davis, a human rights professor at Southern Methodist University…

Reread that closely and let it sink in:  the normal human desire not to be locked up (even in a jail named “Freedom Place”) is used as evidence of “trafficking”, and if a girl says she has no pimp (which is true of 90% of underage whores), this is viewed as proof of “brainwashing”.  Furthermore, even if the state cannot prove a girl was hooking it simply files whatever charges it can just to keep her locked up indefinitely.  Best of all, the one reciting this propaganda is supposedly an “expert” in human rights.

…Elizabeth Crooks, who runs a mentoring organization called Embassy of Hope…said she can relate personally to the victims’ struggles because she was a victim of sexual exploitation as a teenager.  Crooks said she escaped the cycle with help from a church group, but did not recognize that what she had gone through was illegal sexual abuse until she was 45…

She “escaped” from something she didn’t recognize as “victimization” until she was “helped” to redefine it as such over a quarter of a century later.  Sound familiar?

…Freedom Place gives victims a safe haven.  “We can’t decriminalize and not have places for these kids to go,” said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte…the co-chairwoman of the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking.

Van de Putte clearly has a very warped understanding of the word “decriminalization” if she thinks it means locking girls up and reprogramming them until they “recognize” that they were “exploited” even if they weren’t.

Seven girls currently reside at Freedom Place, where most will likely stay between nine and 18 months.  The first four residents were referred by the Harris County Girls Court, which focuses on sex trafficking cases.  Girls can also be referred by family members or refer themselves…

“Referred” in this context seems to mean “committed”.  Since the place is fairly new, one wonders how that estimate of length of commitment was derived, and if it might not be extended if they decide they need to keep the beds full.

…The nonprofit organization Arrow Child and Family Ministries oversees Freedom Place, but participation in religious activities is optional…

Exactly as optional as admitting to being “trafficked”, probably.  In other words, you can bet girls will stay until “rehabilitated”, and those who don’t say what they’re supposed to say and do what they’re supposed to do are obviously still “enslaved”.

…A low staff-to-child ratio is maintained, and the girls are checked on at least every 15 minutes.  But the facility — with carpeted floors and pastel walls — feels like a home…

A “home” without privacy or liberty where they’re checked on every 15 minutes.  I’m sure Hansel’s cage near the oven was very warm and cozy, too.

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