Monday, October 1, 2012

A response to Ending the Demand Side

Ending the Demand Side of Prostitution
Published: September 30, 2012

To the Editor:

I found the Sunday Review article by Noy Thrupkaew (“A Misguided Moral Crusade,” Sept. 23) to be profoundly troubling. Human sex trafficking is modern-day slavery, and many of the victims are young.

Experts estimate that each year at least 100,000 children in the United States are exploited through prostitution. Unicef reports that across the world there are more than a million children entering the sex trade every year. The average age of first exploitation through prostitution is 13.

To suggest that ending demand inflicts further harm on victims is misguided. We cannot dismiss any part of the triangle — victims, traffickers and buyers — and expect to address the problem.

While increasing social services and a firm commitment from law enforcement to investigate and prosecute abusers would certainly help trafficking victims, the abuse will continue as long as we fail to address the demand side of the equation.

New York, Sept. 24, 2012

The writer, a Democrat, represents New York’s 14th District in the House and is co-chairwoman of the anti-sex-trafficking caucus in Congress.

To the Editor:

Sex trafficking is a billion-dollar criminal industry operating on the principles of supply and demand. No customer, no business. While providing services is vital, preventing exploitation is key.

Similar to countless survivors, Donna, who was featured in the article, had a history of abuse before entering prostitution at 13. For the next 12 years, she had “no other way out.” Social services help after trauma, but a long-term solution requires identifying the core cause.

To combat trafficking effectively, we must shrink the market, holding buyers and traffickers accountable and supporting those driven into prostitution.

The Swedish law provides guidance. Ten years after it passed, an independent evaluation found Sweden to be an “undesirable” destination for traffickers because fewer men buy sex.

In the United States, women and girls are repeatedly victimized by prostitution laws that arrest them rather than help them. And yet the real perpetrators continue to fuel the demand for commercial sex with impunity.

New York Director, Equality Now
New York, Sept. 24, 2012

To the Editor:

Noy Thrupkaew’s critique of the “end demand” movement tries to polarize groups that are working toward the same goal: ending violence in the sex trade. Ending demand is not a moral crusade but a common-sense approach, as johns say being arrested and charged would deter them from buying sex.

In addition, End Demand Illinois advocates the very solutions Ms. Thrupkaew puts forward: better accountability for traffickers, and social services for survivors.

End Demand Illinois works with survivors to create and lobby for stronger human trafficking laws. As a result, prosecutors in Illinois have begun charging and convicting pimps and traffickers.

Ending demand means ending exploitation, holding people accountable when they benefit from the sale of other people’s bodies, and offering help to people who want to leave the sex trade.

Chicago, Sept. 24, 2012

The writer is executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and a co-founder of End Demand Illinois.

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