There is no such thing as sex with a child. There is no such thing as sex with an underage girl. I feel like this should go without saying, but as I look through national reporting on the Jeffrey Epstein case, it seems like I need to be shouting this from the rooftops.
In case you missed the news, Billionaire Epstein has been accused (again) of sexual assault and sexual exploitation of children. He has a range of high-profile acquaintances, including former and current presidents, actors, and tech giants. This is a powerful man with powerful allies preying on the most vulnerable among us. And yet, these vulnerable victims seem to be cast as equally if not more culpable than the adult man who violently manipulated and abused them.
Headlines, news reports, tweets and more refer to these victims as “child prostitutes” and “underage women” or refer to Epstein and his associates' actions as “sex with a child.” This language obfuscates the point that these were crimes committed against children.
You cannot have sex with a child. It is always sexual assault. You cannot meet a child prostitute. They are a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. Children don’t have the ability to consent to sexual activity, no matter what they look like or what situation they are in. We must do more to protect our children and that starts by holding offenders like Epstein accountable in our courts and in our reporting.