Teen girls trading sex for favours

ANDREW HANON

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Somewhere in the city, children as young as 11 and 12 are gathering in basements and playing intricate, graphic sex games.

I first heard about these parties a few years ago from my 12-year-old daughter, who said kids at her school played games where each girl had to perform oral sex on several boys.

Naively, I dismissed the story as another urban myth, like Pop Rocks causing heart attacks and maggots in milk-shake machines.

Turns out, these parties are very real and frighteningly commonplace.

Edmonton is featured in a new book and documentary DVD called Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss by Sharlene Azam, where she explores "the growing phenomenon of middle-class girls trading sex for money, drugs and luxury goods."

Azam says hyper-sexualized popular culture and romanticizing gangsterism, combined with AWOL parenting, have created an atmosphere in which young teens view oral sex as nonchalantly as necking was seen a generation ago.

"It's in every school, even more in the suburbs," Azam said yesterday. And from there, they're just a small step away from prostitution.

One girl said that if she's already fellating two or three boys every weekend at parties, she might as well have sex with five or six and get paid for it.

Azam quotes one Edmonton 15-year-old who says, "I can work at KFC and make $100 a week, or I can make $400 a night for sex."

Often girls will agree to sex with older men in exchange for drugs or designer shoes, clothes and handbags, convincing themselves that because there's no money involved, it's not prostitution.

Azam recounts a case a few years ago where Edmonton police broke up a ring of up to 50 girls all from the same Edmonton high school, which she declined to name.

Police were horrified to realize many of the girls were angry with them for shutting off the cash flow.

One girl told Azam, "We told the police that they never forced us to have sex. They didn't need to because they could always find other girls to do it. There are also way more guys doing this than anyone can imagine."

None of the girls Azam interviewed said they were forced to do anything they didn't want to.

If the girls wanted money, they'd call a man named Luu Chi Dang and tell him that they wanted to work.

He'd pick them up and take them to one of three homes, where a dozen or so middle-aged men were waiting.

For each man the girls had sex with, they'd be paid $60. Dang got $40.

Said one girl: "I just had to lie there. The lights would always be off, and the few times it bothered me I would think that I could go get Boston Pizza after or something. The best part was getting paid. I did it for the money. It took 15 minutes and I would have $500."

Azam described Dang as a "really nice guy, very polite and deferential." He never recruited anyone. The girls took care of that.

"Most of the girls said they wanted to make money to go shopping. When their friends saw them shopping they would tell them, 'If you want to make money contact Luu' and I would hook it up," he told her.

Azam offers advice for parents who fear their girls are being sucked in. It's all common-sense stuff, like communicating, spending time with them and building up their esteem. She also reminds adults that they have a job to do.

"Don't be afraid to assert your authority... your daughter might not thank you for keeping track of her whereabouts, but it does not matter," she says. Azam adds: "The biggest problem is that parents aren't worried enough."

ANDREW.HANON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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