This woman wants us to realise there's no such thing as a child prostitute

A petition asking the Associated Press to stop using the phrase “child prostitute” has gained over 23,000 signatures and received celebrity endorsement.

The petition was started by The Human Rights Project for Girls and was written by Withelma "T" Ortiz Walker Pettigrew, seen above testifying before Congress on sex trafficking.

Pettigrew opens the petition with an image of herself and says:

This picture was taken around the time of my 17th birthday. What it does not tell you is that from the ages of 10 to 17, I was sexually exploited throughout the western United States, charged with solicitation and prostitution, and jailed as if I was a criminal.

I was not a child prostitute or child sex worker. I was a victim and survivor of child rape. And so are the other kids out there now who are being bought and sold for sex. They are victims and survivors of child rape.

The petition recommends that the terms “child prostitute,” “child prostitution,” “underage prostitution” or other variations on the phrase stop being used in Associated Press reporting.

It recommends that although the descriptors may be clearly indicating that money is being in exchanged for sex, it implies consent and criminality where none exists.

I was 10. And girls like me are beaten, kidnapped, gang raped, and tortured into selling our bodies to adults, every night. This is not about choice. This is about abuse and rape.

The Human Rights Project for Girls has recommended that the following phrases be used instead:

“sex-trafficked child”
“child sex trafficking victim”
“commercial sexual abuse” of children
child who is a victim of “commercial sex abuse”
“commercially sexually abused” child

P Diddy and Ashton Kutcher have signed and tweeted the petition, among others.

To sign the petition, click here.

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