MANDEL: Why are judges striking down mandatory minimum sentences for pimps preying on young girls?

They are mere children, lured into an ugly world where their bodies are bought and sold by men who profit on their enslavement.

Two runaway girls, aged 14 and 15, are plied with alcohol and speed in an Ottawa hotel room, pawed by strangers and posed for photos designed to pimp them out.

A 14-year-old runaway from a Toronto group home is held hostage at the Marriott Hotel on Bloor St. W., where she’s forced to service up to 30 men over six days and nights.

Two southwestern Ontario girls, aged 14 and 17, are forced to sell their bodies in hotel rooms in Windsor and London. When exhaustion finally forces the younger one to refuse to work, she’s dumped at a bus station and handed $40.

In all these cases, the pimps were convicted of trafficking in girls under 18 and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison.

None of them got it.

Instead, their lawyers managed to convince judges in Ottawa, London and Toronto that the Stephen Harper get-tough-on-crime penalty was cruel and unusual punishment that violated the pimps’ rights under the Charter.