New legislation proposed to help victims

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- On Capitol Hill this week, there is a growing bipartisan call for a war on child sex trafficking. New legislation will be introduced to combat the problem, increase penalties for buyers and sellers, and educate the public about its young victims.

At the National Press Club today, a trafficking survivor spoke one-on-one with Andrea McCarren.

"How can a 10-year-old, an 11-year-old, a 12-year-old and so on consent to sex legally? Our children are being raped and being forced. It's not a choice," said Jessica M., a sex trafficking survivor.

Jessica was just 11-years-old when she hit the streets to escape horrific sexual abuse at home.

"That made me want to reach out and feel love and acceptance from someone, anyone, anywhere as long as I felt it. I wanted to be a part of a family," she said.

Jessica ended up trapped in the child sex trade-trafficked nationwide-from Los Angeles to K Street in D.C.

"For the first time in their lives, somebody says I love you, why you are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me, I'm going to make you a star. I'm going to get you in ads, you're gonna be a model. You're beautiful! And then one hug, one kiss and the next thing you know, what am I doing in this room?," says Don Knabe, the Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Like other child sex trafficking victims, Jessica was advertised online. The rates for a sex act start at $50. The younger the child, the higher the fee. "You have people that will sell babies to make a buck," says Jessica.

They are held hostage by fear.

"One girl drove out to the desert. She had to watch one of her colleagues burned to death. Right there in front of her, because they were outed. And so, this will happen to you if you go out," says Knabe.

To put all this in perspective, we are told there are 5,000 animal shelters in this country. But the number of beds available nationwide for child sex trafficking victims in recovery? 300.

Jessica also told us her buyers included doctors, lawyers, law enforcement and even the dean of her school. She said he was in his 40's, she was 14. But she never reported him because she did not think anyone would believe her.


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