Project: No Such Thing Campaign
Rights4Girls is a human rights organization working to end sex trafficking and gender-based violence in the United States.
“Child prostitute.” These two words utterly fail at capturing the legal and moral context of what trafficked youth experience, and moreover, diminish the violence, harm, trauma and coercion that victims endure. Most of these children are underage and are forced by their trafficker to sell their bodies for sex multiple times a day – they have no choice or agency in the situation. These children, under the age of 18, are unable to legally consent to sex and federal law states that individuals induced to perform a commercial sex act in exchange for anything of value are, by definition, a victim of sex trafficking, not a prostitute.
There needed to be a change.
In 2015, Rights4Girls launched a campaign to eliminate the term “child prostitute” from major media sources, elected officials, law enforcement and the general public.
In support of the campaign, the McCain Institute joined Rights4Girls in traveling to different cities working to raise awareness in Ohio, Minnesota and Texas, bringing together local officials, local media sources and local anti-trafficking organizations at each event. These programs not only addressed the fact that there is “No Such Thing” as a child prostitute, but also educated audiences on facts and signs that indicate trafficking. These events were hosted at Google offices, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, and other public settings to draw as many people as possible.
Spreading the message achieved results.
Since its launch, Rights4Girls’ No Such Thing Campaign has achieved a number of major successes. As a result of their change.org petition, in 2016 the AP Style Guide was changed to make it incorrect to use the words “child prostitute” together in a sentence. Moreover, as a result of their advocacy, the Los Angeles County Sheriff declared that children would no longer be arrested on prostitution charges in LA County—the largest in the country. The campaign has received major media coverage from HuffPost, LA Times and more.