Prostitution and Trafficking

Anti-Sex Trade Turns to Focus on Men Who Buy Sex

Monday, April 18, 2011

A legal shift in looking at the men who pay for sex is a new focus for anti-sex trafficking activists. The strategy has led to changes in state legislation and educational programs at a growing number of "john schools."

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Many Victims of Violence

A portion of the Journey, an anti-sex trafficking art installation by the Helen Bamber Foundation.

A 2002 study published by the Center for Impact Research in Chicago found that of 222 women involved in various facets of Chicago's prostitution industry, the vast majority were victims of some form of violence. Almost 80 percent of women on the streets reported being threatened with a weapon at least one time and half of the women working in escort services had been raped.

"Women don't wake up when they're 7 years old and go to school and tell the teacher, 'I want to be a commercial sex worker,'" said Hatcher. "By and large, most women don't want that to be their lifestyle."

The reality is that most women enter prostitution as minors. Many flee chaotic families and find themselves "cared for" by a pimp. Girls enter prostitution at an average age of 12 and pimps and johns often "count on [them] being broken," said Hatcher. Nationwide, 100,000 children who leave their homes each year are sexually exploited, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

"I'm an anomaly. I had a degree. I had a supportive family. It was easier for me to stabilize when I finished our program," said Hatcher. "The norm is these women enter as children. This is all they know."

Hatcher insisted that education combined with legal consequences is the key to combating sex trafficking.

In a survey of 113 Chicago men conducted by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, 87 percent said that seeing their photo or name appear in a local paper would serve as a deterrent from buying sex, while only 41 percent said that being required to attend a johns course would do the same.

Focusing on the demand side of sex trafficking illustrates why it isn't just a legal or economic problem, but a human rights issue as well. For Hatcher, one of the most important aspects of john schools is that they teach men how all women deserve to be treated.

"They are all supposed to be treated like human beings," she said.

Alizah Salario is a freelance journalist living in New York. Her work has appeared in The Daily Beast, Ms. Magazine, at the Poetry Foundation and elsewhere. She blogs at www.alizahsalario.com

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For more information:

Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation:
http://www.caase.org/

Cook County Women's Justice Program:
http://www.cookcountysheriff.com/womens_justice_services/wjs_main.html

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The Swedish model of decriminalizing the sex worker while enforcing illegality of Johns and Pimps appears to be working.

MYTH: Legalizing prostitution gets rid of its criminal elements - pimps and traffickers.
FACT: Legalizing prostitution benefits pimps and traffickers. It also benefits johns.
MYTH: Legalizing prostitution would protect sexually exploited children. When prostitution is legal, licensed brothel owners do not hire minors or trafficked women.
FACT: Legal prostitution increases the sexual assaults of children in prostitution.

MYTH: Prostitution is a deterrent to sex crimes.
FACT: Research indicates that prostitution is associated with increased rates of rape.
MYTH: Legalization of prostitution is an entirely separate issue from human trafficking.
FACT: Prostitution is the destination point for trafficking. Legalization of prostitution promotes sex trafficking.
MYTH: Legalized prostitution would control the sex industry.
FACT: Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution expands the sex industry.
MYTH: If you oppose legalization of prostitution, you’re saying that prostitutes should be arrested.
FACT: The abolitionist Swedish law, which is a model law, decriminalizes women in prostitution but arrests their predators: johns, pimps, and traffickers.
MYTH: If you oppose legal prostitution, you’re a moralistic, judgmental, prudish person who is pushing your value system on people who think differently from you.
FACT: While people are entitled to their moral and religious beliefs, our opposition to the institution of prostitution is based on evidence of the harms of prostitution documented by researchers, health service providers, and law enforcement.

The real issue with sex trafficking is that prostitution is still illegal. This creates a black market. Once it is legalized you end the black market (like drugs). By just arresting people all this does is put a bandaid on the issue.

Sara
http://istoptraffic.com

Actually Sarajane, the Swedish model of decriminalizing the sex worker while maintaining enforcement against Johns and Pimps has the best public health outcomes.

http://www.prostitutionresearch.com/

MYTH: Legalizing prostitution gets rid of its criminal elements - pimps and traffickers.
FACT: Legalizing prostitution benefits pimps and traffickers. It also benefits johns.
MYTH: Legalizing prostitution would protect sexually exploited children. When prostitution is legal, licensed brothel owners do not hire minors or trafficked women.
FACT: Legal prostitution increases the sexual assaults of children in prostitution.

MYTH: Legalization of prostitution is an entirely separate issue from human trafficking.
FACT: Prostitution is the destination point for trafficking. Legalization of prostitution promotes sex trafficking.

In response to both the article and the first comment, the problem for good-will workers of all kinds is that terrible problems are ever continuing; that does not trivialize the very important and valuable work done to help people who are victimized, wherever and however they have been victimized. However small the 'drop-in-the-bucket' of help this program and others like it may be, they are helping some, and they are giving others the courage to live a more respectful life, including men who would take advantage, and girls and women who would have been taken advantage of when at a low point in their lives. Thanks for reporting this important program.

Your story does not mention the fact that for decades, maybe millenia, programs targeting demand for prostitution have failed to do anything about it. Back in the 60's or 70's, they started arresting and prosecuting johns in CA and elsewhere. The problem was no real consequences attached for the buyers and men got up in arms about being publicly shamed by having their names published. There just is no will in the law enforcement establishment to stop demand. I seriously doubt that these john schools will do or are doing any significant amount of good. Men will just go to them to get lesser penalties. Until there is public shaming and significant consequences for men who patronize sex workers demand will never decrease, and maybe it won't then. Your article was short-sighted and shallow.

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