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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Spotlight on sex trafficking

Rosario Dowling (right), representative and advocate for Californians Against Slavery, answers questions from City College students during a campus-wide Human Sex Trafficking forum. Photo by || Tamara M. Knox

A human sex trafficking forum conducted by the City College Honors Club Nov. 19 at the Student Center gave audience members a glimpse into what really happens on the streets and behind closed doors: prostitution and trafficking.

“This goes back to the early days of slavery where people were taken from their homes to another location and forced to some type of work or activity against their will,” said City College President Dr. Kathryn Jeffrey. “This is an issue that is so pervasive in ways we don’t really understand.”

Human sex trafficking by definition is an illegal trade in human beings for the purposes of sexual exploitation or forced labor—a modern-day form of slavery, according to

The definition given at the forum by FBI agent Kurt Ormburg was short, concise and to the point: “Sex trafficking is a violent crime. It is rape.”

The average age at which girls become prostitutes is 13 years old, with the entry age for boys at 11 to 13, he said.

“I talk to 12 or 13-year-old boys and girls and they say it’s a decision or a choice they made,” Ormburg said.

However, he added, the main reason why girls and boys pursue prostitution is due to molestation within the home, either by a family member or guardian. The result usually ends in the child running away from home seeking someone to say, “I will take care of you.”

Underage prostitutes walking the streets at night are called “the invisible children” by multiple task forces. One such unit Ormburg works for is “Innocence Lost,” which works in cooperation with local, state and federal agencies.
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Ormberg said that pimps often recruit girls by convincing them that prostitution is all life has to offer them. In one situation, he recalled, a pimp turned a girl into a prostitute at the age of 13. She saw more than five clients each day until she was 19. Her pimp inevitably was arrested for hitting the girl with a cast iron to the face, but he filed a lawsuit against the court for false accusations. The girl testified in court that she had hit herself with a cast iron, but later she confessed to saying what the pimp had told her to.

That man, along with approximately 50 pimps, has been put into prison. Also, 150 girls were recovered and put into receiving homes, Ormburg said.

Aside from the success rate, many forum speakers said they believe one thing: California laws are weak.

“Stronger laws and safer children—that is what we are trying to accomplish,” said Californian’s Against Slavery representative Rosario Dowling.

California is considered a top destination for traffickers in the nation. According to, more than 500 victims from 18 countries were identified in California between 1998 and 2003. Courage To Be You representative Suzanne Maust proposed a solution steering away from law reformation.

“We are offering permanent housing called ‘Courage Home,’ which is 52 acres of rural area,” Maust said. “It will be the first permanent residential home in California.”

Schooling, therapy, mentor training and personal hygiene will be offered to Courage Home clients, among other offerings, Maust said.

For more information about Courage To Be You and “Courage Home,” click here. To view more information on Human Trafficking laws, click here.

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