Susan Sarandon, Other Activists Work to Provide 'Safe Harbor' for Child Prostitutes
They're forced into prostitution, often as slaves, yet, if caught by the police, these children are more likely to receive juvenile criminal charges rather than compassion, help and true justice.
Activist Somaly Mam is doing something about that. The New York Times reports Mam and actress Susan Sarandon are teaming up to convince 47 states to pass Safe Harbor laws. Such laws protect child prostitutes from being charged, prosecuted or imprisoned.
The campaign is led by The Body Shop, a national chain of beauty product stores, and, The Times reports, this push is actually phase two. The first phase was all about raising public awareness, and now company executives are offering their customers petitions to help enact legislative change.
So far, only New York, Connecticut and Washington state have Safe Harbor laws.
In addition to the petition drive, a portion of the funds from the Body Shop's $7 tube of "Soft Hands Kind Heart" hand cream will go to ECPAT USA (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking). The purchase of $5 tote bags goes to the Somaly Mam Foundation.
Mam knows about child prostitution firsthand. Born in Cambodia during the terror of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Mam was separated from her parents and lived in a forest until a man picked her up and promised to find her mother. Instead, she became his sex slave. He raped her until she was 13, then sold her to a brothel. When she tried to escape, she was caught and tortured. After seeing her best friends murdered, she tried again. This time she was successful and Mam now travels the world as a human rights advocate and author.
"Sometimes you can learn, even from a bad experience," she writes in her book "The Road of Lost Innocence." "By coping you become stronger. The pain does not go away, but it becomes manageable."
Related: AOL Wins Major Victory in Child Porn Case
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.