To the Editor:
In “As Other Crimes Recede, Street Prostitution Keeps Its Wily Hold” (news article, Feb. 13), you report that New York City’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, is directing law enforcement to arrest those who buy prostituted human beings for sexual exploitation.
Commissioner Kelly, by adopting this human-rights, women’s-rights-based approach, joins the growing ranks of leaders in law enforcement who have made ending sex trafficking their priority.
For too long, prostitution laws have been enforced in a gender-discriminatory manner. Those being sold and arrested are overwhelmingly women and girls. Those who buy the prostituted, or sell them, are overwhelmingly male, and face far fewer, if any, legal consequences for their actions.
If we are to stand a chance at ending sex trafficking, we must deepen our understanding of the end point of sex trafficking, which is prostitution. Those of us who reject the notion that prostitution is sex work (when did human sexuality become work anyway?) and see it as an end result of some of the worst social conditions possible (sexual abuse in childhood, poverty, gender inequality, racism) must fashion remedies that address those conditions.
Rather than make social injustice more tolerable, we must work to end it — in our lifetime and forever.
Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
New York, Feb. 14, 2012