The world’s oldest profession is also the oldest bane of childhood. Sex trafficking of minors has become a perpetual human rights atrocity which affects developed and under developed countries alike.
In third world countries, a lack of government enforcement allows child prostitution to flourish, while in core nations, victims of this crime fall through the cracks. The story of impressionable children lured into sex trafficking never has a happy ending. Fortunately we can help end one young woman’s nightmare, and help her achieve the life sex trafficking denied her.
There was once a time Sara Kruzan showed signs of a promising future. Her role as a clever student as well as student body president, led teachers and peers to believe that Kruzan was nothing more than a typical kid. But beneath the veneer of happiness was the reality of an absent father, a drug-addicted and abusive mother, and bouts with depression.
A man named G.G. asserted himself as a father figure to the emotionally vulnerable Kruzan when she was only 11 years old. Two years later, Kruzan’s paternal surrogate molested her and forced her into prostitution. According to human rights advocacy group Change.org, “For the next 3 years, from 6pm to 6am, strangers would pay Sara’s pimp to rape her and other adolescent girls he recruited and preyed upon.”
Kruzan ended her stint in the commercial sex trade when she shot and killed G.G. at the age of 16. She is now serving a life sentence with no possibility of parole in a California prison. Aside from being unfair, Kruzan’s sentence is indicative of how ignorant people were of the psychological damage sexual abuse has on young children. The 1994 sentence was also a testament to the racial disparity in the conviction of minors; a problem that persists to this day. In California alone, there are 225 juveniles serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Black children are 22 times more likely to be given a life sentence than are whites. In many of these cases, the backgrounds of the crimes are ignored.
The context of Kruzan’s case was so extreme, its dismissal during her trial prompted several critics to call for an executive intervention. “The sentence was extreme and unjust. And it can now be overturned by one man: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger,” said Change.org.
Governor Schwarzenegger’s tenure in office will end this year, and he is expected to begin considering clemency petitions. Kruzan has recently filed a clemency petition to the governor. It is imperative that Governor Schwarzenegger grants clemency to Kruzan, now 32, who has spent half her life in prison. Granting clemency probably would not amend the life of adversity Kruzan has had to endure but it would at least show that our society doesn’t abandon troubled youth.