Byline: CHRIS HERDMAN
IT TOOK just weeks for a desperate 14-year-old schoolgirl to turn to prostitution to survive on the streets of Cardiff.
She ran away at the end of May and by June, she was working the streets, selling her body for money to pay for her keep at her pimp's home.
A Cardiff youth court heard how she returned home dirty, dark-eyed and very sad.
Today, her grandmother reveals her fears that this horror story is not unusual and that more innocent victims will be led into prostitution.
In court, a 17-year-old girl was convicted of two offences under the Child Abduction Act and two charges of aiding and abetting prostitution.
The 14-year-old had met up with a 15-year-old girl in Cardiff Central Bus Station before the young pair were befriended by the 17-year-old girl. The grandmother - who cannot be identified to protect the girl's identity - told the Echo: "My granddaughter remains extremely distressed by the whole experience and will continue to have problems for a long time.
"I don't feel sorry for the girl - she was manipulative and believed that she was going to get off in court. She isn't sorry for what she has done. She should face as severe a penalty as possible to get the message across to others who are doing this.
"They are prostituting girls even younger than my granddaughter. It is an important issue that hasn't fully been addressed "The person who put my daughter to work as a prostitute has been caught, but I don't believe she was acting alone. What is being done to catch the other people involved and the kerb-crawling men who paid for sex with my granddaughter?
"Without those men, my daughter wouldn't have been a prostitute. Even dressed up and with make-up on, my granddaughter looked 14 - these men know they are having sex with children and they should be prosecuted."
The woman believes there is an underworld of vice in Cardiff which casts a wide net for the vulnerable.
"I went looking for my granddaughter the whole two weeks she was away and I found that there were a lot of children on the streets of Cardiff - some of whom were involved in prostitution.
"A lot more should be done by the police, the social services and others. Any steps that have been put in place to eradicate this problem clearly haven't worked."
But police in Cardiff said the problem of teenage prostitution was not as severe as the teenager's grandmother believed. Superintendent Kevin Tumelty said: "There is a lot of anecdotal evidence about child prostitution but in Cardiff there have been very few actual cases. …