Thursday, August 4, 2011

Buying sex makes you a john, not a sugar daddy

We heard about national media coverage (on the Huffington Post and the Today Show) of websites that cater to older men who want to make “arrangements” to pay for sex with younger women. The stories have focused on college students who are turning to prostitution to pay down their loan debt.

What are the real implications of men using their money and power to exploit women? Although they use the euphemism “sugar daddy," let’s be clear. These men are johns. These sugar daddy websites are fueled by men who buy subscriptions and create a system that facilitates the selling of young women’s bodies.

CAASE’s study of 113 johns in Chicago showed that men purchase sex because they face very few barriers or consequences. It’s disturbing to think that some of these “sugar babies” are on the site out of desperation and, instead of proposing that we reach out to help them, the media is treating this as simply another side effect of the bad economy.

It’s unacceptable for our society to ever, ever be ok with a woman being pressured into prostitution. That seems to be the crux of the story—women with tremendous debt who feel they will be of more value to society if they could pay off their loans. As one woman interviewed in the HuffPost article said:

"I just wanted to get it over and done with as quickly as possible," recalls Taylor, forcing out a nervous smile. "I just wanted to get out of that situation as safely as possible, pay off my debt, and move on."

Let’s be clear, prostitution is dangerous. One study showed that the rates of violence were similar for women who were prostituted on the street as those in indoor venues. The average life expectancy for a woman who enters prostitution is seven years from the date she enters the trade.

It’s time to stand up against men who are fueling a system that exploits young women. End the demand for prostitution by asking law enforcement to hold “sugar daddies” accountable and call them what they are: men who are buying other human beings.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sun-Times Tells the Story of Cynthia Barnes

Cynthia Barnes, a prostituted woman who died violently at the hands of a john, is the subject of a series of columns from Mark Brown at the Chicago Sun-Times. All too often, the stories of prostituted people are ignored in the media. We are heartened that Brown is delving into the complexities of this subject.

Barnes's death is deeply disturbing. According to her boyfriend, Barnes wanted to exit the sex trade but faced few options. She was homeless, didn’t have anywhere else to go, and grappled with addiction. On a rainy night, she went on a “date” with a john to get out of the rain. The john apparently pushed her from a third-story window, and she fell to her death.

Prostitution is not a victimless crime. Women and children in Chicago suffer tremendous violence at the hands of pimps, johns and traffickers. Many women in the trade say that they would like to leave, but they fear violence from a pimp or simply don’t know where to turn. Read our "Myths about women in prostitution" fact sheet to learn more.

Our End Demand Illinois campaign seeks to refocus law enforcement’s attention toward those who profit from the sex trade (johns, pimps and traffickers).  We envision a community that offers a network of support for people who want to leave the sex trade. To learn more about the campaign, visit