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PODCAST | Underage Prostitution

In collaboration with Crosscurrents from KALW News, Mills College students in the Public Radio Reporting Program unearth the many facets of the Oakland community.

In some neighborhoods of Oakland, opportunities to earn a living in the formal economy are limited. So some young people turn to the streets for money. For teenage girls, this often means prostitution. Currently, there are hundreds of underage prostitutes on the streets of Oakland. Many of them were coerced into sex work by older boys and men.

While prostitution is technically a crime, some local activists are pushing for children and teens involved in the sex trade to be seen as victims of sexual abuse instead of wrongdoers. In January 2009, new legislation went into effect to do precisely that; yet certain advocates question its success.

In this report Tashina Manyak talks to the people working directly with these minors to find out what they have to say.