Posts Tagged ‘prostitution’

In August, many cities’ and counties’ law enforcement agencies participated in a National Day of Johns Arrest.  It’s a start at a coordinated effort to tell men, “don’t buy women for sex.” People debate about whether prostitution should be legal, but evidence increasingly shows that legitimizing prostitution makes sex slavery worse, not better.  Here’s my conclusion… legal prostitution creates an incentive to supply cheap prostitutes, and human traffickers are willing and able to provide.  In places where prostitution is illegal, arresting the prostitutes and pimps has little effect and further victimizes the women, many of them underage.  On the other hand, Sweden has shown that when they focus on making buying prostitution illegal, and direct their law enforcement efforts at the buyers of sex, the incidence of prostitution goes down, and so does human trafficking.

Imagine for a moment if there were zero customers for commercial sex.  There would be no prostitution, and therefore no sex trafficking.  Of course, there will never be zero customers, but you get the idea.  Reduce demand, and you’ll reduce the market for sex slaves.  Yes, we need to continue to rescue and rehabilitate sex trafficking victims.  But we also need to focus preventative efforts on reducing demand.  One way is to educate men and boys that it’s unacceptable to buy women for sex.  An additional step is to focus law enforcement efforts at arresting prostitution customers.  There should no longer be a “boys will be boys” attitude about prostitution, because that response ignores the victims — the girls and women who are too often coerced into providing sex to the “boys.”

Fortunately, US law enforcement is slowly starting to turn attention away from the prostitutes/victims, and realize that the problem won’t go away until customers stop buying.  Those are my opinions based on the reading I’ve done.  Please leave a comment with your thoughts. Find out if your city/county participated. Urge law enforcement in your community to focus their vice resources on fighting demand.

You can read more at Demand Abolition

Or view a press release, also at Demand Abolition

For more research, check out the book The Johns by Victor Malarek on the Non-fiction books page.


Swanee Hunt at Demand Abolition has written a compelling essay making the case against purchasing women and girls for sexual gratification.  Demand Abolition highlights the demand side of human trafficking.  They take the view that focusing on victim rescue & rehabilitation, and trafficker prosecution, will never solve the problem of slavery and commercial rape.  Without addressing the buyers of commercial sex (the demand side of the business transaction), the fight against sex slavery is a losing battle.  Hunt breaks the argument into 14 main points, carefully explaining every point, and summarizes each with a provocative statement, including:

  • Purchasing sex is an assault on the other’s dignity
  • Buying sex is inhumane
  • Most modern day prostitution is modern day slavery

Demand Abolition has a lot of good information about why there needs to be more emphasis on addressing demand in order to effectively fight human trafficking.  Customers of commercial sex (the johns) need to be educated and/or prosecuted in order to curb the winked-at practice of buying people’s bodies for sex.  The article is provocative, and you may not agree with everything you read there, but it’s worth looking at if you’re serious about ending sex trafficking.

I had already been pretty convinced that non-trafficked prostitution, whether legal or illegal, encouraged human trafficking because the market for commercial sex created an economic incentive to supply the sex workers as cheaply as possible.  But now, having read the article at Demand Abolition, I feel as if I can articulate the reasons better, and I have more reasons to consider that I didn’t really think of before.

Village Voice Media has an online ad section called  One of the sections is “Adult”, and critics say that occasionally it’s used by sex traffickers to sell sex with minors. defends the practice as free press.  They use the analogy that just because people sometimes send illegal material through the mail, we don’t shut down the post office.  They also claim that if they don’t sell the ads, someone else will.  Critics want them to either remove the adult section altogether, or require identification and photos for all Adult ads to prevent sexual abuse of minors.   It’s a similar situation to Craigslist, which last year shut down its paid adult services section after persistent pressure from a variety of sources.

The NY Times has an article on the subject titled Fighting Over Online Sex Ads.

Should advertisers be free to accept ads, when they don’t control the content, and when there is a significant risk that the ads may be used to sell sex with minors?

Is this a strictly legal issue, implicating freedom of the press?

Is this a moral issue where a business needs to respond to public pressure and proactively protect minors from being sexually trafficked?

What do you think of the analogies that Backpage is using?  Is there a similarity between someone using the Adult section of to advertise prostitution which turns out to be sex trafficking of a minor, and someone using the postal service to transport illegal material from one person to another?  Does it make a difference to you that the advertising is broadcast by an unidentified poster to all readers, while the post office is transporting material from one identifiable source to a specific addressee? 

What about the argument that if shuts down its Adult section, those people will advertise somewhere else?  For instance, when Craigslist shut down its paid adult services section, how many of those customers went to, and other such alternatives?  Is this similar to a community attempting to move an adult bookstore or theater out of a high traffic downtown neighborhood? 

What about the critics?  Is their request to have require positive ID of those advertising in the Adult section reasonable?  Would it help the situation? 

Do they have a right to have shut down the Adult section on moral grounds?  Is the possibility that minors might be trafficked sufficient to warrant shutting down the Adult section? 

What arguments are most persuasive to you?  Please add your thoughts and comments.

A young woman was trafficked into prostitution in Kolkata, India, and then rescued at age 16.  After more than a year of freedom and healing, she was victimized again, and trafficked into a brothel across the country to Mumbai.  It took rescuers more than four months to find her again in the vast red light district of an enormous city.  Watch the story at International Justice Mission’s web site.

Is Craigslist assisting human traffickers?  It appears that some of our congressional representatives are concerned that Craigslist is abetting illegal activity. Despite Craigslist’s pressured replacement of the “Erotic Services” section with a new “Adult Section,” members of Congress sent a letter asking Craigslist to respond to a number of pointed questions:

  • “What means do you intend to employ to ensure that those who seek listings in the new ‘Adult Section’ are not victims of unlawful trafficking, and that the ‘users’ of their ‘services’ are not unlawful, paying customer johns or violent abusers?
  • What level of cooperation do you intend to establish with police agencies to ensure the enforcement of criminal laws and the faciliation of criminal investigations?
  • What accountability will there be for employees — and for Craigslist — if listings for illegal activity are posted?”

You can read the entire letter. Congressional Craigslist Letter 2009-06-10

Bringing light to women and children in Bangkok

Bringing light to women and children in Bangkok

My friend Don referred me to this article on Breakpoint, which mentions NightLight Bangkok, also highlighted earlier on this blog.  It turns out that NightLight Bangkok seems to have started as a beauty shop for prostitutes, where caring former prostitutes can hear the heartbreaking stories of girls currently in the trade, and help them to find ways out. 

If we’re going to free 27 million slaves, each one of them is going to have to be rescued, helped, loved, protected, and empowered for a new life.  Articles like the one in Breakpoint spread the news, and groups like NightLight Bangkok do the work.

If you know of articles or books related to human trafficking and modern slavery, please leave comments here and I’ll try to review them and post links.  Thanks Don!

While most of the world is getting ready to host, compete, attend, watch, protest, or exploit the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a group of aboriginal women in Vancouver Stop Trafficking Newsletterare preparing to fight forced prostitution and sex trafficking connected with the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.  The June 2008 issue of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter highlights issues of prostitution and sex trafficking of aboriginal and indigenous women in Canada and the US.

In addition to informing the reader that aboriginal women in Canada are significant numbers of the prostitutes there, the writer of the lead article asserts that legalized prostitution not only doesn’t protect women prostitutes, but it increases their subjugation, and legitimizes the pimps and johns who keep them there.  Do you agree?

The Olympics, The World Cup, and other grand-scale sporting events are magnets for human traffickersStop Trafficking Newsletter because of the enormous international tourist populations who travel to attend.  The May 2008 Issue of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter highlights problems of Human Trafficking connected with the Olympics. The Stop Trafficking Newsletter is an excellent monthly source of information about Human Trafficking, both in the US and internationally.    Read the May 2008 issue, or visit the main site to see archived issues.  You may contact the author of the newsletter to join the mailing list and get the monthly updates directly.  Highly recommended!

Carl’s Note (6/8/2009) – Some estimates prior to the 2006 World Cup predicted that as many as 40,000 victims of human trafficking would be brought to Germany to provide a ready supply of sex workers for the influx of tourists and football fans.  This estimate is contradicted, or at least not supported, by a report provided by IOM (International Organization for Migration).  According to the IOM report, Research on Human Trafficking and the 2006 World Cup in Germany, “All data, information and experts’ statements that are available to date strongly indicate that an increase in human trafficking, during and after the World Cup did not occur (my emphasis).  It was concluded that the 40,000 estimate was unfounded and unrealistic.”  I don’t think this quote means that major international events like the World Cup don’t have any effect on human trafficking.  Rather, I think that it merely means that there were no statistics to indicate a particular increase in human trafficking in Germany immediately around the time of the World Cup, and that this is probably due to many reasons, including a well-documented, significant effort by Germany to combat and detect human trafficking in conjunction  with the Cup.  South Africa can learn from Germany’s example, but it will remain to be seen if the South African government has the resources and will to fight HT in 2010 as Germany did in 2006.