Yes, Lawrence Taylor, you are the cause of prostitution. Taylor has become the latest spokesperson for our societal ignorance around the issues of prostitution and sex trafficking. And he’s living proof that the way to end exploitation is to make sure more johns get “busted.”
In case you haven’t heard, Taylor is an NFL player who was sentenced to probation this week for purchasing sex from a 16-year-old girl. While listening to him defend his actions, and witnessing the lack of accountability and punishment for the harm he caused this young woman, all I could think was: Who do we want to protect?
Let’s hear from Taylor about how he bought a child:
"It's the world of prostitution," he said during the Fox News interview. "You never know what you're gonna get. Is it gonna be a pretty girl, an ugly girl or whatever it's gonna be”. When asked about purchasing a 16-year-old, he responded: "I don't card them. I don't ask for a birth certificate."
This young woman was a victim of trafficking. There is no such thing as “child prostitution” because children cannot legally consent to have sex with adults. This victim was also beaten and forced into the trade—other elements of human trafficking. At the most fundamental level, Taylor raped a child. So how can we protect other children and adults from being exploited in the sex trade? Jezebel identifies the crux of the problem quite nicely, and then proposes a solution that will never, ever work:
“Nearly everyone agrees that ending trafficking, both of children and adults, is a moral imperative. How can we do this? One start would be to draw a clear line between trafficking and voluntary prostitution, and to severely punish those who have sex with trafficking victims.”
The clear and concrete line between “voluntary” prostitution and trafficking is imaginary:
- Many people we call “prostitutes” are victims of violence and control under a pimp. That means they are being trafficked.
- Many prostituted people are raped, beaten and forced to sell their bodies to more than 10 people each day. That means they are being trafficked.
- Many of these same people were recruited into the sex trade when they were 12, 14, 15 years old, which meant that they were trafficked.
Do we really think that people like Lawrence Taylor, the people who buy sex, care about victims of trafficking? The only way to protect vulnerable people from being exploited in the sex trade is to end the demand for paid sex. Stop the arrest and re-arrest of prostituted people, and start “busting” people like Taylor who are buying sex and fueling the trade.
Taylor says it himself, describing how infrequently johns are punished: "You never think you're gonna get busted because everyone does it until you get busted, and then it's more embarrassing than anything else."
He shouldn’t be embarrassed. He should be in jail.
CAASE believes that we can end the sale of people’s bodies for sex, by ending the demand for prostitution. Don’t buy sex, and don’t tolerate it when other people buy sex. To learn more about these issues, check out our Myths and Misconceptions fact sheets here.
To join our campaign to end the demand for paid sex, visit www.enddemandillinois.org.