Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looking Beyond the Story of Madame Rose

Rose Laws, a "madam" who prostituted women on the Gold Coast and was then imprisoned, is profiled by ABC7 this week about her "business" selling women's bodies to wealthy men in our community. In the interview, she reveals many disturbing facts about prostitution in Chicago and names some names. Most importantly, her story subtly reveals the rampant violence and indignity experienced by women in prostitution:

  • Laws says that professional football players hurt some of her "girls" by holding their heads under water in a hot tub. Violence is rampant in prostitution-the average life expectancy for a woman in prostitution is seven years after she enters the trade.

  • She also describes sending her "youngest girls" to service men--the connection between child sex trafficking and "high-end" prostitution is strong and clear. As long as there is a demand for young bodies, children will be trafficked. We must ask why we would implicitly allow men in our community to buy children for sex.

  • Laws estimates her women sold their bodies to as many as 5,000 men in Chicago. There is indeed a huge demand for prostitution in Chicagoland, and it feeds on more than 25,000 women and children who are prostituted in our city on any given day. There are very few consequences for men who are caught buying sex, while women in prostitution are often arrested and re-arrested.
I am genuinely interested in the reasons why Laws entered the sex trade. For the majority of women who do, it is out of desperation, not choice.

What can you do to help women in Chicago who would like to leave the sex trade? Join the End Demand Illinois campaign to fight the demand for the sex trade in Chicago. Respond to the media using our toolkit with common myths and misconceptions, and hold the media responsible when they get it wrong or only tell one side of the story.

Visit to learn more.

Security Screenings and Survivors of Sexual Harm

There’s lots of chatter today about TSA security screenings and pat-downs at the airports on this busy travel day. Our legal director, Kaethe Morris Hoffer, was on WBEZ this morning talking about how the issue affects survivors of sexual harm. She states that the screenings could be traumatic to survivors. Listen to what she had to say, and leave a comment!

Kaethe and CAASE offer low- or no-cost legal representation to survivors of sexual harm. To learn more about our efforts, visit

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.