This story truly troubles me because we have a legal commitment to treating under 16 year old as victims of exploitation where they are prostituted not as perpetrators. Unless, apparently, they decide not to. As in this case in Tyneside where a 15 year old girl was found to have lubricant and condoms in her school bag and seemingly confessed to working as an escort.
The Escort agency nor their clients seem to be facing any legal action here despite clearly having broken the law. Local women’s group are calling for the Police to take action against both the agency and the clients.
Clare Phillipson, of charity Wearside Women in Need, said: “They need to investigate the agency if they haven’t already done so. The police have gone to her house and seized the money [she earnt], but have they made a list of her clients, and are they going to prosecute them?
The girl had the money taken off her as “proceeds of crime”. Yep I’d agree – the crime was the sexual exploitation of a child, pimping of a child and rape of a child. The perpetrators are the agency and the men. Yet it seems to be that only the child here has suffered?
Wendy Shepherd, children’s service manager for Barnardo’s Sexual Exploitation Children Outreach Services (SECOS), oversees child exploitation matters around North East England. She added: “Child sexual exploitation is an issue for a number of towns and cities across the North East. It is not unusual that young people are coerced and groomed into sexual exploitative relationships, and they don’t always understand fully what is happening.”
At a normal escort agency rate of around £120 an hour, or less if they were longer bookings, that £8000 represented 67 punters. That was the true cost in this story…a 15 year old escort spreading her legs 67 times…Did the magistrates bother to understand that sum? Did they ask the girl what she’d been saving her money for? Did they consider their role as ‘magister’ and what they were teaching a teenager about justice? Or was it just a matter of smug moral principle and reclaiming £8000 for The Crown?