A Rant Against the Defense of Johns…

You Call that a Defense?
If Jim Norton thought he was going to be an advocate for the legalization – or even decriminalization – of prostitution or sex work in literally any country with his article in Time magazine, he has not only fallen short of the mark…he has made a strong case for why we should encourage law enforcement to focus even more efforts to arrest the buyers of sexual services and insist that they attend one of the many John Schools that are popping up throughout the country.

Before you dismiss my comments as that of a sex-work-hating-rhetoric-spewing member of the anti-trafficking movement that has become drunk on the fear mongering liquor they liberally dispense throughout the country, understand first that I speak from both the experiences of the sex industry worker and the advocates for the women who want out of the sex trade. I supported the concept of John Schools long before they regained popularity and mutated from efforts to educate and inform to an agenda to shame and penalize. I also understand – as Mr. Norton clearly does not – that the reasons for a woman to engage in Sex Work range from those that truly enjoy the work and the financial remuneration the receive, to those who are forced into the trade by circumstance, perceived cultural norms and a lack of opportunity to support themselves in any other way.

Additionally – the National Day of Johns was indeed a parade of sorts – for law enforcement to crack down on juveniles who were being prostituted, multiple cases of physical and psychological abuse and the ever present abuse of power – including a border patrol agent trying to buy sex in full uniform as well as a mother who was selling her 15 year old daughter for sex. The issues of sex addiction, and ritualistic compulsions – as Mr. Norton proudly claims to be paying a therapist to address – are also paraded in this 15 state sweep where they arrested a “daddy” soliciting the services of a prostitute with his new baby in his back seat. Wow. Who is exactly is your therapist Mr. Norton? If tallying the dollar amount is the only recommendation this therapist has to make to have you account for your behavior, you might want to check the validity of their license.

Mr. Norton also claims to be “extraordinarily loving and comfortable” towards the prostitutes he charms through the passenger window of his car. And he worries about violent behavior like rapes and homicides but did nothing when – during one of his “gentle and intimate” sexual service shopping expeditions he witnessed a woman bounced across the hood of his car and tossed into a van filled with more women. How exactly would he recommend this – or any other – pimp get thrown down an elevator shaft” if Mr. Norton didn’t take a single action to alert authorities that he personally witnessed a violent kidnapping and did nothing?!? Way to take a stand Mr. Norton! I’m sure sex workers everywhere are taking up the mantle of legalization based on your action in hopes that they will be protected from violence in this manner. Perhaps you should volunteer to attend a local John School curriculum so that you could gain some understanding of how far off the mark your defense of johns actually is. It is not the legalization of prostitution that needs to be addressed here – it is the attitude created by those such as yourself that the woman who was bounced across the hood of your car didn’t deserve an anonymous call to the police with the license plate of the van in question. You display – by your lack of action – that this woman was of No Worth. Disposable. An antidote for a comedy bit.

Mr. Norton goes on to self-righteously claim that it is the society who is at fault for the prostitute being put in dangerous situations and quote studies that suggest that Rapes and STD’S would be reduced across the board if legalization of prostitution were to be signed into law when in fact this action would only legitimize the pimp and do nothing to protect the prostitute. Legalizing prostitution would not provide health insurance and a retirement package for the prostitute nor would it encourage her to report a violent crime against her person. Just exactly how do you see the “security” being “adequate” in places of legalized prostitution when the majority of violence would occur by the very providers of the security? It is the short-sighted, self-centered point of view of the john that continues to trip up the criminal and social justice system where sex work is concerned. You are not entitled to buy sex out of the passenger window of your car as if it were a Happy Meal of sorts and “giving johns a break” has never really been the central issue when the subject comes up.

Prostitution and Sex Work are complicated issues that demand sensitive and prolonged thought when considering solutions. Prostitution and Sex Work is not the same as Sex Trafficking but there is no clear delineation that both sides of the issue can agree on to make a law – or series of laws – that provide for the variety of needs that arise from the men and women – and indeed children – who work within the sex trade whether by free and fully informed choice or force, fraud and coercion.
Johns like Mr. Norton, who troll for paid sex indiscriminately in neighborhoods where poverty, hunger and homelessness are the primary economic factors that drive this facet of the sex trade can and should expect to be demonized and arrested posthaste. They are a danger to the community and they have no dog in this fight. There is a gap the size of the Grand Canyon when it comes to the difference between a john who discreetly seeks out the company of an independent responsible sex worker who is informed and over 21 and is willing to undergo a certain amount of screening and what Mr. Norton describes as his ritualistic addictive behavior to entice whomever might be working a corner under a streetlight.

Mr. Norton’s call to “give johns a break” is enough to confirm the need for education and information about sex work, prostitution and sex trafficking through a john school format. And if they have to be arrested in order to receive this information and behave in a socially responsible manner, then so be it.

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I am NOT a Victim of Sex Trafficking – An Open Letter to Human Sex Trafficking

Dear Human Trafficking:

So you thought you could get the best of me, didn’t you?  You thought you could not only take my hope for a better future – but my stories of the past and use it for your own gain.  You thought you could dismiss me and marginalize me.  You thought that you finished me off when I stumbled out of the sex industry – cold and alone and afraid that I would never be able to live a normal life.   You thought I would believe that no one could ever love me and that I didn’t deserve anything better than the cesspool of shame you left me in.  You thought that I was one more notch on your belt and that the label of prostitution and sex trafficking would be enough to make me hide for the rest of my life.  You thought you had damaged me enough that I would be useless.  And you turned your back on me.

But while you weren’t looking – while you were busy trapping and demoralizing the younger men and women you find so attractive – I got better.  And I got stronger.  And I became fearless.  What you didn’t count on was the fact that while you tried to convince people that I wasn’t a “real” victim, you were also making me believe I wasn’t a victim.  And instead of making me feel worse – it made me feel better.  Suddenly I realized that if I was still standing…I was a SURVIVOR of sex trafficking…not a victim!  And now that I was standing…I thought I could help someone else.

And you laughed and turned your back on me  to feed on the souls of others.  You preyed on the weak and the poor.  You didn’t discriminate against race, religion or political affiliation.  Your wanton lust for flesh took you to the far corners of the earth and you convinced some that prostitution should be legal and it was a victimless crime and that the people that provided such services truly loved it…you took “free will” and turned it against the human race.  You became powerful and blurred the lines so that many couldn’t see that this was nothing more than a new version of slave trading.  And you became complacent that what you had created was beyond our ability to “fix” and that you could continue to gobble up lives with abandon.

And I got stronger and so did the others that had come before me.  We are finding our voice and you can’t shut us up and you can’t shut us out.    You may have taken on the mantle of “help” to try and deceive us into thinking that someone else could tell our stories and would let us in their club and have a seat at their table.  Because you know the insidious nature of the this disease you created and the fear that is never far beneath the surface of any survivor of sex trafficking, you thought we would let them hide our pain and our grief with their bluster.  You made them complicit with your defiance of all that is right by asking us to wait in the corner and trot us out when they needed a show.  It was like they became the new pimp.  The new well-meaning kinder gentler pimp.  But still a pimp.

Look out Human Sex Trafficking.  You have become fat and bloated and are wallowing in a sea of ignorance.  And I am here to take you out.

You should know I’m not alone.  All those souls you turned your back on over the years?  They stand with me.  And what you never counted on is that I am NOT a victim of your game of torture and dehumanization.  I am a SURVIVOR.  I am a FIGHTER.  I am a THRIVER.  I am an OVERCOMER.

And I am done with you.

Aside

Stories From Behind The Crimson Curtain

Tyra was a referral from local law enforcement.  She had been discovered in a sex trafficking sting where they were looking for a particularly slippery trafficker, but while in the process of tracking him down Tyra’s probation for deriving proceeds from prostitution in a neighboring county was violated and she was serving out her time in jail.  The vice officers from Orange County were distraught over the other counties disdain of what the enlightened counties vice unit considered to be victimization and the more dark ages county considered to be criminal and wanted to offer her some kind of support or assistance. 

            As with any effort to establish communication with an inmate in the criminal justice system, it involves a hundred forms and even more phone calls to the wrong person who either leaves the caller on hold for the rest of the afternoon or offers to take a message that you can see being tossed to the side of the incredibly high stack of paperwork the corrections system is buried by.  Something magical must have happened that day because the chaplain answered the phone on the first ring, took my information and gave me the mailing address to send Tyra a letter and an application for entry into a safe house. 

            Tyra filled out the application and mailed it back to me within a couple of days and I called the chaplain again to let him know that OOTL would be at the jail at 5am on her release date to pick her up and transport her to the safe house.  He relayed the information to Tyra and called me back to confirm this was what she wanted to do.  I sent a letter to the jail for them to enter into their system so that when she was released, the releasing officer on duty would know that she had transportation and a place to go.

            I arranged with a professional team that worked with OOTL to provide us with security and transportation during extractions to pick Tyra up and passed the application on to the safe house so they would be prepared for her arrival.  This all sounds organized and straightforward, but each and every girl, each and every program,and each and every agency have their own particular way of handling intake and it is always a struggle comply without some conflict arising that has to be resolved with another agency and with another 100 or so phone calls.  The benefit of accessing a girl straight from jail is that most of her medical issues have been addressed and the absolute necessity of a TB screening is completed as well as much of the other medical and psychological screening can be released to us with little more than a signed Release of Information.

            Tyra’s release date arrived and all the plans were in place and the transportation team waited outside the doors of the jail and when they saw her come out, they also noticed she looked afraid and it would soon become clear why.

            We had not been the only ride home Tyra had that early morning.  Her pimp was also in attendance and without introduction she slipped past the transportation team and headed towards his predictable Cadillac.  My security guys are not shy and they consider their provision of transportation as their own obedience to God and they didn’t even hesitate before heading to the car and talking both of them to rolling down their windows and offering to pray with them.

            There was a stunned silence and then – after gaining a visual ok from the pimp, Tyra offered her hand to the leader of the security team and he said a brief prayer requesting God protect and provide for Tyra all that she would need.  While doing so, he slipped my card into the sleeve of her jacket and then clasped her wrist and ended his prayer.  They stood up and walked to their car and the Cadillac roared to life and exited the jail grounds quickly.

It was in less than two days that Tyra called – clearly high and clearly panicked.  She had been beaten up and couldn’t give me a good location.  When I tried the number a few hours later, a man answered and told me that Tyra had checked out of the motel and taken the $40 security deposit and disappeared.  There was no discussion of her physical condition and he seemed unconcerned over her well being but he was furious over the loss of the $40.

Tyra called again a few days later, again clearly high, and she begged for me to come get her.  We agreed on a meeting place and time and I arrived 30 minutes early to have time to scope out the surrounding area.  When 30 minutes passed on our agreed meeting time I called and got no answer.

About three weeks later she called once again asking for rescue from a notorious motel in the area of Orlando known for high sex industry activity.  We again agreed on a meeting time and place and we went through the same scenario with a few more requests for additional time and then – once again – no answer after several hours passed.  Tyra disappeared from my radar for almost a year.

And then suddenly at 11pm on a Thursday in October, she emailed me asking to be contacted by the same detectives that had tried to help her before.  Her disappearance was for a good reason.  She had ended up going to prison on more Violation of Probation charges and had just been released 5 weeks ago.  It just happened that it was within the days of OOTL opening a crisis intervention home. I knew this was some sort of sign that another opportunity was presenting itself for Tyra’s rescue and restoration, but this time I had something to offer.  Tyra entered the OOTL house on October 4th, 2011 and while she exhausted from just living her life the past 2 years – I saw tentative hope in her eyes and hesitant dreams starting to form about her future. 

I always ask the girls what they think was the defining moment for them to quit the life.  They always look at me like I must be a little crazy for asking such a dumb question – as if any of them really chose for things to end up the way it did. 

Today Tyra is working at a job that pays her far more than she ever made as a prostitute and the joy of living what she calls “The Square Life”.  She has saved more than $1000 towards paying off her crippling court fines and getting her drivers’ license back.  We still fight drug addiction and alcoholism issues.  Her abandonment issues have come full circle and she recognizes her shortcomings but isn’t terribly excited about doing anything about them.  She is easily overwhelmed and gets stressed by everything and by nothing.  Her moods go from extremely happy to overwhelming sadness.  She is desperate to be loved and constantly seeks the “love of her life” in the most unlikely and most unsuitable of men. 

It is impossible to recognize the love of another if you are unable to love yourself. 

Video

Prostitution is NOT a Victimless Crime

Prostitution is not a profession or a victim-less crime. Sex Trafficking and Prostitution are one and the same. Most adult women who have been victimized by the sex industry were first trafficked by a family member. There is very little help for women who want to escape the sex industry. http://www.outofthelife.org

Stories from Behind the Crimson Curtain – Veronica

Veronica was like a ray of sunshine when she arrived – bright pink Hello Kitty suitcase in hand – at the bus station in Orlando. She didn’t get in until late on a Thursday night and she didn’t arrive at the hotel we reserved for her for several hours after that. She had been referred to us by the victims advocate in another Florida county and her story was a pretty tragic.
Veronica had been shot by a Romeo pimp through her breast and through her arm. She had testified against him at trial but the jury found him not guilty and let him go. He had threatened her while he was being held in jail and the entire State Attorneys office was frantic to find her a place out town. Since he had been found innocent of this brutal crime, Veronica was not eligible for any victims benefits – not that they are that great any way – but it would have provided for a few dollars to eat and possibly even a chance to relocate.
It didn’t seem to matter what obstacles were thrown up at Veronica – she seemed to either ignore them or just turn and find another way to get ahead.. She wasn’’t spiteful or angry in the least about her circumstance but it didn’t take too long to discover that Veronica’s armor was made of paper and rubber bands.
The first few weeks went pretty smoothly. She had made some friends at the motel – however inappropriate they may have been – and within about three weeks I stopped by with some groceries and – against every rule I have ever set for myself or anyone who works with me – I knocked on her door unannounced and discovered a complete stranger lounging in the bed like he owned the place. My first instinct was to run for the door as I don’t make it a practice to hang out in motel rooms with strange men anymore, but I simply handed Veronica the small bags of groceries and backed out of the room with a little chit chat as possible.
She stepped outside the door with me and shamefully told me that she had been lonely and had called a friend from the county she had fled from and he wouldn’t leave now. She was both embarrassed and a little frantic and together we went to the front desk of the hotel and got her a new key card and gave her instructions that when he left to go hang out at the pool, she was to pack his things and set them outside the door and leave the area. The hotel was kind enough to promise to call me if there was a problem and about 4 hours later, Veronica called to let me know he was headed back to the bus depot and back home. He had been angry at first, but had decided not to make a scene. The suburban area of Orlando where I live and where kept the girls wasn’t really much of an area that encouraged homeless vagrants and he could see that he was as close to being arrested as he cared to be.
I knew at that moment that Veronica was going to be a bit more of a project than I might have thought.
She got a part time job and within a week had met Prince Charming and couldn’t wait to introduce me to him. I agreed to meet in a public place and was ready to fire at him from all barrels when the nicest young man I had ever seen approached me – clearly a bit scared as he could see me loading my verbal gun when they pulled up.
“Could it really be that she met a nice guy?” I thought to myself. It was unlikely and completely out of character for girls so new to OOTL to hook up with decent men but not unheard of. I never liked to pass judgment on these experimental relationships that the girls often use to test their boundaries and their newly discovered decision making skills. I always figure that we learn from our mistakes and even though we don’t like to keep making old mistakes in our new lives, a lot of times it helps to have someone help them see the way that old behavior can influence what our lives look like. And there’s a bit of a hopeless romantic in me that really believes that sometimes God shows us what I call “A Promise” – that if we straighten up and get it right, all the things we ever wanted – including being loved – will come to pass.
And sure enough…this new guy was willing to take on all of the baggage from Veronica’s past and walk it out with her. They settled into a sort of domestic bliss with Veronica happily cooking dinner and keeping the small apartment neat while Timothy was at work. But doom was imminent and Veronica soon got bored with the lack of chaos and drama that she had grown so accustomed to.
Although I had counseled her sternly that she should refrain from encouraging inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex, Veronica could not resist her innate desire for attention – ALL of the attention – and out of boredom, she invited a new “friend” over to the apartment while she was alone and the inevitable happened.
Of course she was caught and asked to leave with all of the drama that she swore she was willing to leave behind and immediately returned to tricking.
Veronica is in a transition. She just turned 20 and she feels like an adult but has the attention span of a child. She has not yet tired of the chaos and drama that she has known all her life, but we remain in close contact and at such a time when she is truly ready to surrender and refuse the life of a victim, she has someone to call and someone who cares.
We have had many frantic calls from clients who refuse to drop the drama. This is almost viral with women. We seem to get a thrill out of pushing the envelope and seeing how closely we can step to the flame without getting burned.      When the inevitable happens and they feel the heat they are always so surprised that they have been embroiled in yet another firefight. It would be comical if it weren’t so tragic.

The cycle is never ending when your life is chaos centered.  There is a cycle of abuse – whether it be physical or substance – coupled with trouble from within the family and complicated by bad relationships are the recipe for the disaster that many women can’t let go of. They have often been in this cycle since birth and they don’t know there are other choices.
Veronica has struggled to get the proper medical and psychological care she needs. Most psychologists won’t agree to see her because she has a marijuana addiction that she refuses to release. She will go a few weeks doing well and working and feeling good about her self and then something will take place that just shuts her down and she starts acting out in explosive ways that are almost frightening.
It was during one of the good times – the holiday spirit completely enveloped her and she longed to return home to see her grandmother. She took a trip down to her hometown and then suddenly things went wrong. She ended up being raped by her step brother – violently – as he and his father – also Veronica’s step father – had been drinking. Terrified, Veronica jumped out of the window and ran to a next door neighbor. The neighbor called the police and drove her to the local station. There, the officer on duty ran her name through their database and saw the record of prostitution arrests and immediately shut her down.
Veronica would not be swayed. She insisted he call the sheriffs office and called a local rape crisis center hotline herself and then called me. I also called the crisis center and they assured me they would be on the way. It was nearly 10pm on Christmas Eve.
By 2 am it was clear that no one was coming to take her statement or to a hospital for treatment
To the system – she was a throw-away – of no importance.
After all, how can you rape a prostitute?

DEMAND an End To Sex Trafficking

Communities are becoming more aware of the occurrence of sex trafficking throughout the United States and as more organizations work to serve the needs of both juvenile and adult victims it has become apparent that more needs to be done to address the source of the problem – the demand.

Anyone familiar with almost any industry knows that economics is regulated by two factors – that of supply and demand. When demand is high – supply must be constantly available and increased accordingly. When demand is low, the supply responds by becoming less available. It is no different with the Sex Industry. Selling sexual services has become so lucrative because the demand for sexual services of an ever widening diverse supply is high. Those who control the supply are constantly required to access new resources to replenish the availability and answer the increasing demand. Like the market for any good or service (illicit or otherwise), demand is the driving force, and the other components follow. When there is demand, supply will be found or produced, and distributors (in this case, pimps, traffickers, or those acting as their own distributors) work to ensure that the two shall meet. The stronger the demand, the greater the economic motivation to obtain and deliver a supply will be. Without question, markets originate in consumer-level demand, and supply and distribution are responses to demand.

As our society comes to understand that there is no difference between prostitution and sex trafficking, we have a better understanding of the dynamics of the problem and one of the goals we need to add to the services we offer victims is a commitment to reduce the demand by treating the disease and not just the symptoms. Until relatively recently, the criminal justice system attempts to suppress street prostitution have focused largely on interrupting supply by arresting and sanctioning the providers. But they have usually ignored the individuals creating demand. While arresting women engaged in street prostitution may temporarily clear an area of visible activity, driving it to other neighborhoods or indoors, experience shows that this strategy alone produces few lasting benefits. Prostituted people cycle through the criminal justice system often and rapidly, typically returning to the streets within hours of being arrested. Moreover, women and girls arrested for prostitution are rarely provided with services to help them address the issues that make them vulnerable to further sexual exploitation.

It begs the question “Who is buying all these sex services?”

Studies of male consumers of commercial sex find that buyers are similar to the general population in most regards, and quite unlike most populations of criminal offenders. A very small percentage of men who buy commercial sex services are dangerous criminals and sociopaths, however a substantial portion of men in the U.S. admits to having purchased sex at some point in their lives. With one out of every five or six men admitting to purchasing sex, patronizing commercial sex is unlikely to be primarily the result of rare deviance or pathology. Most men do not purchase sex, so the behavior cannot be considered a problem beyond the reach of intervention. Many men who have been arrested for purchasing sex are likely to have attended college, and only 15% are single men. The largest percentage of the men are well educated, employed, and married, and very few had extensive criminal histories. In fact, more than 85% of men questioned state that nothing more than the threat of arrest would be enough motivation for them to not seek out commercial sex services.

Many studies have examined men’s motivation for buying sex, and found that there is a wide range of reasons for buying sex from prostitutes. Many are seeking intimacy or a way to approximate intimate relationships they are unable or unwilling to develop. Just as many seek sex without intimacy or a way to get sex without the investment and compromises needed for intimate relationships. Some seek variety and want to fulfill a desire for sex with women of various “types,” based on ethnicity, size, age, hair color, etc. A few are thrill-seeking by being drawn by the “thrill of the hunt” and the illicit nature of prostitution. But most – in addition to the previously cited reasons for buying sex – is a pathology that is drawn by compulsion, addiction, or by other forms of social, psychological, or misogyny where the intent is to control and harm. Just as an alcoholic is compelled to drink and a drug user is compelled to do drugs, a sex addict seeks to feed his sexual appetite which – as with any addictive behavior – grows according to the amount of time he invests in his addiction.

Men who solicit prostitution are not necessarily different demographically or in terms of

criminal history, but they are measurably different in terms of a range of attitudes toward women, relationships, and commercial sex. Many consumers are likely to have rather liberal sexual attitudes towards premarital sex, sex among minors, and tended to think about sex more often. Male commercial sex participants are also less likely to have been sexually molested as children, or to report having forced women into sexual acts.

Both prostitution and sex trafficking come from the same source: men’s decisions to buy sex. Many studies have examined men’s motivation for buying sex, and found that there is a wide range of reasons, and the relationships between prostitutes and their “customers” can become quite complex. Both traffickers and victims of the sex industry report that the men they service tell them they are seeking the services of a prostitute for a variety of reasons.

·To engage in sex acts that few other women are willing to engage in.

·To experience sex with women with a variety of physical traits.

·To satisfy the desire for sex and/or intimacy that they are unable to meet in other ways.

·To satisfy a need for emotional support that they are not receiving from others.

·To provide them with sex that requires little or no emotional involvement.

·Because they are attracted to the excitement of the illicit nature of prostitution.

·Because they have difficulty meeting women conventionally (e.g., feeling shy or awkward approaching women).

·Because they feel that most women find them unattractive.

·Because they do not have the time nor desire the responsibility of a conventional relationship.

·Because it provides a less risky means of mimicking extreme or illegal fantasies, such as

incest or rape.

·Because they desire being “in control” or dominating women when having sex.

Anyone who works with men, women and children who are involved in sex trafficking and prostitution, have independently concluded eliminating sexual exploitation requires attacking it at its source: consumer-level demand. Without the demand for commercial sex, there would be no market for producing and sustaining the roles of pimps and traffickers as “distributors.” Nor would there be a force driving the production of a “supply” of people to be sexually exploited. Supply and distribution are symptoms; demand is the cause.

These perspectives have led many cities to enforcement policies oriented to accomplishing short-terms goals of cleaning up particular street corners and business districts; cities often tolerate prostitution activity confined to restricted locations. Frequently, enforcement activities involve arresting prostitutes followed by short-term punishment and no provision of services. Thus, police departments and district attorneys’ offices process a large number of recidivist prostitutes with unaddressed service needs, but prosecute few johns.

Prostitution places a substantial burden on the criminal justice system and on providers of public health and social services. Those involved in prostitution are typically in need of other public services. Prostituted persons are often sexually assaulted, and victims of sexual assault present an array of service needs ranging from the need for employment; refuge from abusers; child care; and legal advocacy to addressing psychological problems resulting from sexual violence. They also are at high risk for a host of physical and mental health problems, including drug addiction, STD infection, PTSD, and injuries from violent crimes. Those supporting themselves exclusively through commercial sex are usually uninsured, and seek costly, reactive health care services at emergency rooms and public health care providers. Since many prostituted women and girls have children, they also are high-end users of the foster care system and child protective services.

The experiences of law enforcement in addressing prostitution and sex trafficking, as well as other illicit markets such as those for illegal drugs, indicate that little lasting, substantial impact results from strategies heavily focusing on supply and distribution. If law enforcement were suddenly to increase its commitment to arresting pimps and traffickers, and if it began to have greater success against them, it is likely that traffickers would adapt by changing tactics or replacing those arrested as long as demand for their “product” remained strong. If enforcement efforts were enhanced, the less organized and less competent small-time pimps may be the first to succumb to law enforcement, but may be replaced by more highly coordinated human trafficking, drug trafficking, or organized crime networks. Alternatively, the same pimps and traffickers could change tactics to avoid whatever was working for police. Additionally, a very small portion of pimps and traffickers are ever arrested, due in large part to reliance upon frightened and/or reluctant survivors to make cases against their abusers. The rare instances where pimps and traffickers are taken out of action may cause short-term interruptions, but they are likely to be replaced as long as demand remains strong and there is profit to be made.

Primary prevention refers to stopping negative events before they occur,

ensuring that people do not become afflicted rather than addressing the

symptoms of the afflictions that have occurred.

The majority of effort to confront prostitution and sex trafficking in the United States has been devoted to tertiary or secondary approaches (trying to stem the progression of a problem, or recover from an affliction after it has occurred); while relatively little investment has been made in primary prevention (attacking consumer-level demand).

Reverse sting operations provide those prevention services have been proven to be easy to implement and are revenue producing for both the Law Enforcement Agency conducting the actual sting operation, the Social Service Agency providing the testing and counseling and provides resources for the countless victims who have become trapped in prostitution.

It is our premise that the underlying problem of the buyers of sex services and products is Sex Addiction. Treating the underlying problem just makes more sense.

Sex Trafficking – Speechless No More!

There are very few people who would use the word “Speechless” to describe me. “Loudmouth” – “Inappropriate” – “Opinionated” – Now those words I would recognize. But as I explore this whole prostitution and human trafficking underworld I am nothing short of speechless. Speechless because so few seem to recognize the damage being done to our entire world by this insidious and sinister pandemic that preys on women and children. Our whole society is threatened by either ignoring these practices or glibly claiming it to be a victimless crime. Some of the victims don’t even know they are victims…they live in a world where they believe this is their destiny and that this is all there is.

I was touched by several stories I heard this week. One woman stopped into a local shelter – just to chat – and talked about how she was working to “get her man out of jail.” He had been arrested for a drug trafficking crime and is going do a minimum of 10 years in prison – this was not his first time around the “wheel of justice”. She only had to raise another $4000 and the bondsman told her he would get him out. So she was street-walking and soliciting strangers – the victim of a man held behind bars who called her collect regularly to check her bail bond progress, complain about the food and tell her he loved her. We all said a silent prayer that he would be sentenced quickly so that she would be able to get enough freedom to have a chance to let us lead her towards a different path.

Another story was told to me about the proliferation of human trafficking in the Central Florida area. Many of the big cities up north have made it difficult for the traffickers to operate and they have found our tropical climate and our ever widening ethnic and cultural framework to allow them to work their evil trade with very little interference from law enforcement. They make themselves difficult to identify and have surprisingly innovative ways of laundering their ill gotten gains through Hair, Nail and Skin Care Salons, Dry Cleaners and Laundromats, Hotels and Motels, Restaurants and Bars. The women – many under the age of 15 – are told that the police will kill them if they find them or they will be deported to their country of origin where their families will disown them because of the shame they have brought on themselves by living a life as a prostitute. Victims not once, but twice.

Two completely different stories of Human Trafficking converging – not thousands of miles away – not in another country – not in another city – but right in front of me. Within blocks of where I live. I was rendered speechless.

As I drove home to my upper middle class suburban condo with a beautiful view of a lake, I was overwhelmed and saddened by my blindness to my surroundings. That cheap pedicure? Not so cheap. My smart attitude with the maid at the four star resort not getting my extra pillows to me quick enough? Not so smart. My annoyed whine about the spot not coming out of my cashmere sweater? Not so annoyed. My judgmental disapproval of a street walker who wanted to get the man she loved out of jail – no matter what her personal cost. Not so disapproving.

How could I be so blind? How could I not see what might have been right in front of me? I’m a smart girl with lots of life experience and I should know better than to not look a little deeper into the eyes – the windows of the soul – and see the pain and the fear and the desperation. I have to give these girls a voice to express their pain and offer more than the copy of a book they may not know how to read. I have to become UNSPEECHLESS and use the things I have known and seen to teach those who don’t understand and to shine a really bright light into the dark corners where this abomination occurs…first in my own community and then in the rest of my state and then into the rest of the world.

There are three kinds of Human Trafficking. The first is the kind that we call “Prostitution”. Prostitution is the result of one person paying to use the body of another for sexual purposes. Doesn’t matter if it is consensual or not. Some prostitution is that of an independent person soliciting for another independent person to pay them for the sexual services. “High Class” Human Trafficking is where a service (Escort Service or Pimp) takes a cut of the money gained from the sexual service in return for making the service available. Many times this is an agreeable relationship because the Escort Service or Pimp promises to protect the service provider from danger. It may or may not be consensual. Escort Services are notorious for holding back appointments from service providers who they suspect of not following the services rules or failing to be available when they are called to “go on a call”. Pimps use intimidation, drugs, violence or the threat of violence and a variety of other coercive methods to pressure a girl into performing sexual services with his customers. Many times the Pimp even uses “love” to compel a woman into an act of prostitution. As in “I love you baby – do this for me – do this for us!” Sinister, isn’t it?

The second kind is a little more familiar when speaking of Human Trafficking. This treacherous practice is very well organized and very international. And don’t think America is NOT international because it happens here too.

Poverty and lack of economic opportunity make women and children potential victims of traffickers associated with international criminal organizations. They are vulnerable to false promises of job opportunities in other countries. Many of those who accept these offers from what appear to be legitimate sources find themselves in situations where their documents are destroyed, their selves or their families threatened with harm, or they are bonded by a debt that they have no chance of repaying.

In some cases a girl is promised an opportunity to model or become an actress. Someone posing as a designer or talent agent will promise the moon to a young girl and many times secure the permission of her parents. They are then whisked off to another city or state or country and forced into prostitution. Some escape but most don’t. In many third world countries the parents are promised a better life or an education for the child and they readily consent, completely unaware of the dismal future of their daughter. In these same countries, parents knowingly sell the girl to the trafficker because they are starving and female children have a much smaller value than the male children. A United Nations report recently stated that less than 40% of 150 countries studied for Human Trafficking statistics had NEVER prosecuted a single human trafficking case which allows the traffickers to operate with impunity across the globe. Many countries refused to even provide their own statistics – even some of the really big ones like Saudia Arabia, China, Libya and Iran. What was even more surprising in this report was that 60% of the traffickers were women – once victims and now perpetrators.

The third kind – really frightening, this one, is the kind where children are snatched off the street and – once again – forced into prostitution. This happens in every country in the world and is devastating to parents who wonder forever if their child is alive. I’m sure most of them pray they are dead rather than living in this existence. Every time I hear a story of a missing child, I am silently praying for their quick and safe return but at the same time I fear for their safety and the likelihood that they are being trafficked. While women and children are particularly vulnerable to trafficking for the sex trade, human trafficking is not limited to sexual exploitation. It also includes persons who are trafficked into ‘forced’ marriages or into bonded labor markets, such as sweat shops, agricultural plantations, or domestic service.

The United States of America is principally a transit and destination country for trafficking in persons. It is estimated that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually. We Americans – as a country – have enhanced pre-existing criminal penalties, afforded new protections to trafficking victims and make available certain benefits and services to victims of severe forms of trafficking. We have also established a Cabinet-level federal interagency task force and a federal program to provide services to trafficking victims. The U.S. Department of State began monitoring trafficking in persons in 1994, when the issue began to be covered in the Department’s Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Originally, coverage focused on trafficking of women and girls for sexual purposes. The report coverage has broadened over the years, and U.S. embassies worldwide now routinely monitor and report on cases of trafficking in men, women, and children for all forms of forced labor, including agriculture, domestic service, construction work, and sweatshops, as well as trafficking for commercial sexual purposes.

Our commitment to abolishing the practice of Human Trafficking is far from complete. Each individual who remains silent on the subject or considers prostitution to be a victimless crime, should reassess their position by research and soul searching and then act by telling a friend, a family member, a neighbor about what you have learned. Only through education and continuously pointing out the dangers of prostitution and human trafficking can we begin to stop it.

Be SPEECHLESS no more!

To report an instance of suspected trafficking, please call the HOTLINE: 1.888-373-7888
http://www.HumanTrafficking.org