Girls as young as 12 caught in sex trafficking web

Girls just 12-years-old were often groomed by boyfriends who eventually forced them into a...
Girls just 12-years-old were often groomed by boyfriends who eventually forced them into a situation where they had no option but to sell their bodies. Photo: Getty Images

Children as young as 12 are being forced into selling sex on New Zealand streets.

Auckland University social researcher Natalie Thorborn has released the disturbing findings into the plight of underage sex workers saying it is much more common than people think.

Girls just 12-years-old were often groomed by boyfriends who eventually forced them into a situation where they had no option but to sell their bodies.

In some instances even parents were selling their own children for sex.

A 9-year-old girl was tied to her bed by her mother and forced to have sex with men.

At least one case is before the courts where a person is facing charges assisting a young person into prostitution and profiting from it.

Ms Thorborn said it was often normalised within the communities the victims belonged to.

She said it was a confronting situation that no young person deserved.

"It's definitely a problem," she told NewstalkZB's Larry Williams.

"Any situation where young people are being raped repeatedly by a number of men so that one person can make a profit from it is a problem."

But she said it was impossible to gauge the extent of the problem because it was secretive and hidden.

She said the youngsters told her about a number of situations where they were being forced to submit to clients raping them.

"Often the perpetrators are posing as their boyfriends and insisting that they do things that they don't want to do and using violence and coercion when they don't."

Typically those using the services of the adolescent prostitute was a middle-class white person who desired sex with underage girls.

She said it was important to develop a robust shared definition of trafficking in a local context.

"We need to understand and recognise when it's happening here. Until we do that individual agencies won't be equipped to respond appropriately."

Ms Thorborn said when anyone under 18 was forced to provide sexual services against their will it constituted trafficking.

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