Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Project Unspoken Video Reveals Rape Culture

“What do you do on a daily basis to avoid rape, sexual assault, or harassment?” Admittedly, this is not a question most of us consider, but that is exactly why filmmakers of Project Unspoken decided to ask participants to respond to in this video.

A brainchild of Emory University’s Office of Health Promotions Respect Program summer internship program, Project Unspoken was launched in May 2012 to help break the silence on sexual assault, rape, and relationship violence. Stark statistics featured in the video show how important it is to give voice to the conversation.

Did you know that only 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail? Maybe this is because at least 54% of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported. Survivors fear they won’t be taken seriously, and if they are, they fear the stigma that comes with revealing their experience.

Beyond awareness, creating a cultural attitude change is essential.

One of the ways that CAASE is working toward this goal is through our work with young men in high school discussing gender-based violence in the sex trade. In one exercise, we ask young men to make a list of words to describe a man who has a lot of sex. Inevitably, they come up with a list of almost entirely positive words. Then, they’re asked to do the same for women, and the list is always pejorative and long. These moments help young men recognize that their own words can help end or stop perpetuating gender-based violence.

Kudos to Project Unspoken for this tremendous video. Learn more about our prevention education program here.

This post was written by Roxy Kozyckyj, CAASE's prevention intern.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mt. Prospect Trafficker's Conviction is a Call to Action

Last week a local man, Alex Campbell, was sentenced to life in prison for trafficking women in a fake massage establishment in Mt. Prospect, a suburb of Chicago. The success of this federal prosecution is a sign that law enforcement is doing more to focus on pimps, johns and traffickers in Illinois.

So, how can it happen, seemingly in plain sight, that women were being trafficked in the suburbs? The victims were undocumented immigrants with a lack of financial means to support themselves. Campbell’s promise for jobs in massage parlors and shelter made the women believe they would be able to earn a better living, but little did they know that their immigration papers would be seized and they would be forced into prostitution. Based on the victims’ testimonials, the physical, emotional, and psychological abuse inflicted upon them is severe and something that they will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

The successful conviction and sentencing of a trafficker so close to home is a reminder that the demand for paid sex is high in our community. Men in Mt. Prospect and from surrounding areas were buying sex from these trafficked women for months, perhaps years without being held accountable. There are fake massage establishments throughout the Chicago suburbs that continue to act as fronts for the sex trade and, almost certainly, for trafficking.

Everyone has the opportunity to take action against exploitation in fake massage establishments, and some local massage therapists are leading the way. Working with Mindful Marketing and Zen Shiatsu Chicago, CAASE helped develop a toolkit for massage therapists that can help them take action around issues of prostitution and sex trafficking. The toolkit is a helpful source of information for concerned citizens interested in learning more about sexual exploitation.

Learn more about CAASE’s wide range of free online toolkits here.

This post was written by Shobhana Johri Verma, a CAASE volunteer.

Monday, December 3, 2012

19 Johns Arrested in Aurora Prostitution Sting

Nineteen men were arrested for solicitation last week during a prostitution sting in Aurora. We applaud Aurora’s law enforcement for focusing the bulk of this sting’s resources to addressing demand.

According to the Naperville Sun, the johns who were arrested are from Aurora and several other Illinois communities including Bolingbrook, Genoa, Glen Ellyn, Joliet, Montgomery, Naperville, and Plainfield. One man was from South Carolina. These are men who live in our neighborhoods, and when they buy sex they help the commercial sex trade to thrive.

Our research has shown that when johns are arrested, they say they will be deterred from buying sex again in that community. You can help by sharing this story widely. We need to get the word out that local law enforcement is holding johns accountable.

Unfortunately, prostituted people continue to be arrested and rearrested, as several were in this sting. Illinois currently has very few resources for those who are seeking to leave the sex trade. CAASE and the End Demand Illinois campaign are working to change that. We advocate for a social service response to survivors of the sex trade, instead of a criminal justice response. Our survivor engagement committee is working with the campaign to transform our state’s response to the sex trade by proposal a network of specialized services. Learn more about the proposal here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Finding Fearless: Help CAASE Win $10K This Week

We need your help! More specifically, we need your clicks and your social media charisma. You've got it, trust us:

What’s Happening?
CAASE has a real chance of doubling a $10,000 grant we received from the Finding Fearless campaign through the Case Foundation (no affiliation to CAASE).

Why does this matter?
Our executive director, Rachel Durchslag, applied and WON a $10,000 grant to support our prevention curriculum for young men in high school. Now, there’s a contest for us to win a $10K bonus grant, money that would help us continue our work with young men in high school.

Sometimes voting in social media campaigns feel like a shot in the dark, but this one is different. There are only 20 organizations competing, and we’re already in the top 10.

How can I help?
Vote for us via Facebook. Go to the Finding Fearless page and vote for Ending Sexual Exploitation for the $10,000 bonus grant. Make sure that you submit your ballot—it’s sort of tricky, you have to “confirm ballot.” If you’re a little compulsive, like me, you can try voting again. It should give you a message that you’ve already voted, which means that your vote counted.

Or, vote via email. If you’re signing in via email, you need to take some extra steps to make sure your vote is counted. After you submit your vote, you will get a confirmation email from the Case Foundation. You must REPLY to this email for your vote to count.

You can only vote once in this contest.

How can I spread the word?
Here are some messages you can post to Twitter or Facebook:

The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation has the chance to win a $10K bonus grant through the Finding Fearless campaign. This money will help support their prevention curriculum for young men in high school. They’re in the top 10 and need a boost, will you take a minute to vote for them, and share this if you feel like it? Thanks!

Please help this organization I support, @TheCAASE, double their $10,000 grant to End Sexual Exploitation. Vote here:

Vote for @TheCAASE in the #FindingFearless campaign to help empower young men in high school to end sexual exploitation. It’s $10K at stake!

Send an Email:


I'm writing because an organization I support, the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, has a real chance of winning a $10,000 bonus grant through the Finding Fearless campaign this week. These funds would help their prevention curriculum for young men in high school--teaching them about the realities of the sex trade and empowering them to be allies in the movement to end violence against women.

Would you take 5 minutes and vote for them today?

Vote via Facebook. Go to the Finding Fearless page and nominate Ending Sexual Exploitation for the $10,000 bonus grant. Make sure that you submit your ballot and it is counted--you have to “confirm ballot.”

Or, vote via email. If you’re voting via email, you need to take some extra steps to make sure your vote is counted. After you submit your vote, you will get a confirmation email from the Case Foundation. You must REPLY to this email for your vote to count. Vote here.


If you have any questions, please email Thank you! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

FOX Chicago Tackles Pretty Woman Myth

Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Robin Robinson reported two stories this week addressing the “Pretty Woman” myths surrounding prostitution and escort services in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. She interviewed CAASE’s Executive Director Rachel Durchslag, as well as Brenda Myers-Powell of the Dreamcatcher Foundation.

Part of what inspired Robin to investigate this topic was the death of Briana Gardner, a young woman who was murdered by a john in a Gold Coast hotel. We hope that Robin’s reporting will bring light to the fact that the sex trade exists all throughout Chicago and that the violence that johns, pimps and traffickers perpetrate doesn’t end when prostitution goes indoors. To learn more about our work advocating to end violence in the sex trade, visit

Friday, October 5, 2012

Police Must Do More to Prevent Abuse of People Impacted by the Sex Trade

News broke late last week that a Chicago police officer, Nelson Stewart, has been charged with “custodial sexual misconduct, official misconduct and bribery, all felonies” after he solicited a prisoner who had been jailed for prostitution to perform a sex act in exchange for being released.

This abuse of power is unacceptable, and we are encouraged that this police officer is being held accountable. Unfortunately, research has revealed that people in the sex trade are frequently coerced or threatened into having sex with members of law enforcement in similar situations. We call on Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy to implement department-wide orders that expressly prohibit any sexual activity between officers and prostituted people and establish safe, confidential reporting options for prostituted people to report this abuse.

We also call on the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to reconsider their decision to charge the crime victim in this case with felony prostitution. After being exploited by this police officer, we believe that that this survivor deserves help and support, not to be criminally prosecuted. The habitual arrest and re-arrest of people in prostitution is a waste of law enforcement resources and promotes recidivism.

Instead, we propose that people impacted by the sex trade should be offered options and resources; doing so could help end commercial sexual exploitation.

To learn more about the need for comprehensive support for survivors of the sex trade, please read our new proposal from End Demand Illinois.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ending Demand is Working in Illinois

On Sunday, The New York Times ran an opinion piece that mischaracterizes the national movement to end demand for the sex trade as a moral crusade that is solely focused on arresting johns. Speaking locally, the End Demand Illinois campaign advocates for a variety of strategies, including some of the very solutions that reporter Noy Thrupkaew puts forward, such as better accountability for traffickers, and social services for survivors of the sex trade.

Ms. Thrupkaew falsely claims that those working to end demand are narrowly focused on helping “an abused teenage girl…forced into prostitution by an older man” and that we “disregard” the diverse needs of others who have entered the sex trade under different circumstances. This is untrue, as End Demand Illinois works with survivors and community allies of different backgrounds, ages and genders to help shape new policies and laws to address conditions that impact most people in the sex trade. In doing so, we consider research that consistently shows that the majority of people in the sex trade were recruited as minors by pimps and have experienced childhood sexual abuse.

Last year, Ms. Thrupkaew spent time with us, and we shared with her End Demand Illinois’ multi-dimensional, survivor-informed approach to the issue. By omitting this information from her piece, Ms. Thrupkaew has left readers with a distorted view of demand-suppression efforts. Here are a few ways that the End Demand Illinois campaign and our allies have worked to end exploitation against all people in the sex trade:

End Demand Illinois is changing laws to hold more traffickers accountable and help survivors of the trade: Rather than discounting the views of people impacted by the sex trade, we have worked with survivors to create and lobby for stronger human trafficking laws.
  • We passed the Illinois Safe Children Act in 2010, the most progressive state law of its kind to decriminalize all young people in prostitution. The law also allowed for wiretapping in trafficking investigations, and as a result prosecutors in Illinois have used the statute to begin charging and convicting violent pimps.
  •  In 2011, we passed a law to help survivors of sex trafficking petition to have prostitution convictions overturned that were a result of trafficking.

  • Just this year, we strengthened Illinois’ human trafficking code so it now covers more tactics commonly used by traffickers, such as schemes and plans. Leeanna Majors, a survivor of sex trafficking in Chicago, advocates with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and testified on behalf of the bill. "The bill is important so that women can be empowered to make a change in their lives, and the traffickers can be held accountable,” Majors said. “Survivors won’t need to show bruises to prove they were trafficked,” she added.
End Demand Illinois advocates for specialized services for all people impacted by the sex trade, including adults, youth, and transgender people: Over the past two years, End Demand Illinois has interviewed survivors and advocates throughout the United States to discover best practices for empowering survivors of the sex trade. Just this summer, we released a proposal for drop-in centers and safe homes that would be survivor-led and survivor-centered, and we are starting to seek legislative champions who can help us turn the proposal into a reality.

Going after the demand side of the sex trade makes sense, just ask the johns.
Johns themselves say being arrested and charged would deter them from buying sex. Unfortunately, law enforcement is not focusing on arresting johns. In a CAASE study of 113 johns in Chicago, only 7% of men interviewed had been arrested for solicitation. In forthcoming research from CAASE’s Lara Janson, johns in online message boards take note of stings that target customers and warn each other to stay away from those communities. One john said, “I would never pick any one up [in this town] because there have been too many busts.” Traditionally, law enforcement has arrested and rearrested prostituted people and let johns go—and efforts to change this response in the United States, like those led by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, are really just beginning to gain momentum.

We need your help. Spread the word about what ending demand really means.
Now we need your help. You can share your support of the End Demand approach by sharing this article with your networks and learning more about the End Demand Illinois campaign.

Tweet your support: A sample tweet could be:
I support @EndDemandIL and its advocacy for holding pimps, johns and traffickers accountable. Pls RT! #enddemand

I stand with survivors @EndDemandIL who have advocated to improve human trafficking laws. Pls RT!  #enddemand

Send a letter to the editor. Ideas for content could include:
I support efforts to end exploitation in the sex trade and believe suppressing demand is an effective approach. Johns themselves say that they could be deterred if they were arrested, but few face any consequence for their actions. Ending demand is about holding people accountable when they profit from the sale of another person, and creating specialized services for survivors of the sex trade.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Free Screening of Half the Sky

CAASE will be participating in a FREE film screening this weekend of  Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The film  follows Nicholas Kristof, Sheryl WuDunn, and celebrity activists America Ferrera, Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union, and Olivia Wilde on a journey to tell the stories of inspiring, courageous individuals. Across the globe oppression is being confronted and real meaningful solutions are being fashioned through health care, education, and economic empowerment for women and girls. The linked problems of sex trafficking and forced prostitution, gender-based violence, and maternal mortality present to us the vital opportunity to make a change. All over the world women are seizing this opportunity.

Saturday, September 15th, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
in the Claudia Cassidy Theater
This event is FREE and open to the public.But you can reserve your tickets here.
Doors: 1:00 PM
Film: 2:00 PM
Panel: 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Agents of Change Expo: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM in the 1st Floor Garland Room

Host: Kathy Im, Director of Media, Culture and Special Initiatives,
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Welcome: K. Sujata, President, Chicago Foundation for Women
Moderator: Jane M. Saks, Executive Director,
Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in Arts and Media
Rachel Durchslag, Executive Director, Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE)
Serena Chen Low, Executive Director, Apna Ghar
Mony Ruiz-Velasco, Legal Director, National Immigrant Justice Center
Sheherazade Tillet, Executive Director, A Long Walk Home

If you can't make it to the event, the film will also be broadcasting on PBS October 1st and 2nd, 2012.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Help Pass the Trafficking Victims Protection Act

What's Happening? The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (S. 1301) was introduced in the Senate over a year ago and has still not passed. Today, Tuesday September 4, is a national call-in day to encourage legislators to pass the bill.

Why does this matter? The Trafficking Victims Protection Act is the cornerstone of all U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) created the first comprehensive federal law to address human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.

On October 1, 2011 this important piece of legislation, the largest piece of anti-trafficking legislation in U.S. history, expired as a result of Congressional inaction and partisanship. This failure threatens U.S. global leadership in the fight against human trafficking and jeopardizes the progress made over the last decade.

What can I do? Let’s push the TVPRA over the finish line in the Senate!

Call Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (R)
(202) 224-2854

You can say:
Hi, my name is __________ and I am a constituent from ____________.  I am calling to ask that Senator Kirk support the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, S. 1301.  I would like the Senate to vote on this bill as soon as possible. Thank you.”

Send a tweet @SenatorKirk Support the bi-partisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, S.1301

What's next?
Find more resources and learn more at

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meet 3 More Runners Who Are Racing for CAASE!

Name:  Aaron Schlessman
Age: 27
Morton, Illinois
Running Experience:
None. Casual.

How did you find out about CAASE? I was doing human trafficking research at Northeastern University. 

Why do you support CAASE’s work?  
I believe in the type of community that CAASE is trying to create and support, especially the prevention efforts. Society can react to offenders and provide services all day long, but until you get to the root of the issue—men—you’re not going to put a dent in it. 

Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most? Prevention. Working with the young men in the schools. The outreach work is absolutely important as well. 

Why is running for CAASE important to you? It’s more than just supporting a cause I believe in—it’s that agencies like this don’t get enough financial support for all the incredible work that they do. 
Name: Susie Moya 
Age: 28 
Hometown: Chicago, IL 
Occupation: Practitioner/Community Educator 

Running Experience: I recently began running last fall. I ran my first 5K (Hot Chocolate Run) in November 2011 and loved it! 

How did you find out about CAASE? I found out about the organization through grad school at University of Chicago. Once I learned about the work that CAASE does, I knew immediately that is where I wanted to intern, and I did for two years! 

Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most? What attracted me the most to the organization is its holistic approach to ending sexual exploitation by addressing the ones who perpetrate, support, and profit from sexual harm. I believe that the key to living in a community free of sexual exploitation is by addressing the root cause: the demand to purchase sex. 

Why is running for CAASE important to you? I am a strong supporter of innovative and fun strategies to create awareness of different causes. I believe running is one of those. CAASE is an amazing organization and running serves as a fun and self-care activity for me. Therefore by participating in the Race for CAASE, I am able to support an amazing organization and practice self-care--it’s the best of both worlds!

Name: Erika A. Rist 
Age: 19 
Hometown: Wyomissing, PA 
Occupation: Undergraduate Student at The University of Chicago 
Running Experience: I've been running and racing for my schools since I was 13. 

How did you find out about CAASE? Once I found out about and began researching sex trafficking, CAASE was always mentioned in reference to the most recent and transformative Illinois legislation combating the misconceptions that sustain the sex trade in Chicago. I had to find out more about this groundbreaking organization. 

Is there any specific part of CAASE's work/mission that interests you the most? I am most compelled CAASE's foremost philosophy--to end trafficking, we need to end the demand that sustains the industry. 

Want to support the Race for CAASE Team? Visit their Razoo team fundraising page here, and share with a friend! 

This post is by Sasha Wolff, CAASE's communications intern.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't Let Myths Shape Public Policy about Women's Reproductive Health

As most of you have heard by now, over the weekend Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri made deeply disturbing and misinformed comments about sexual assault and women’s reproductive health. He said that women who are “legitimately” raped do not get pregnant: "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," he said.

This is, of course, misinformed and betrays a lack of basic knowledge about sexual assault and women’s physiology. The sad reality is that there are many myths about sexual assault that permeate our culture and, in turn, perpetuate violence. To respond to Akin by merely saying, “oh that’s ridiculous” ignores the fact that many people around us do believe these types of myths about rape.

An important response about these myths has come from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “A woman who is raped has no control over ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg (ie, pregnancy). To suggest otherwise contradicts basic biological truths.”  

Yesterday, President Obama responded by saying “rape is rape,” and decried Akin’s comments. Obama said, “So what I think [Akin’s] comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women.” 

It’s time to speak out when legislators and leaders are using these untruths to shape public policies.

·         First, let’s educate ourselves about common rape myths so we can stand up against rape culture. Our allies at Rape Victim Advocates in Chicago have gathered an excellent list of myths and facts to get started. 

·         Next, consider taking action to help pass the Violence Against Women Act, which offers protection to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

·         To learn more about CAASE’s work to hold perpetrators of sexual violence accountable, visit our legal services page. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gold Coast Murder Leads to Victim-Blaming

A woman was found murdered in a hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast this week, and the tone of the media coverage has been deeply disturbing. The woman was likely the victim of a crime, and yet all reports have centered on what she may have done to deserve it. Why would the media be so cruel? For one reason: this woman had also been arrested for prostitution.

Reports about the murder assert that the woman lived a“high-risk” lifestyle because of her involvement in the commercial sex trade. Certainly it’s important for the public to know that the murder could possibly be connected to prostitution, and it’s true that prostitution is dangerous for many women involved. The deeply disturbing detail that’s being left out is this: the most frequent perpetrators of violence in the prostitution are the customers, often called “johns.”

In her study, Sisters Speak Out, Jody Raphael of DePaulUniversity interviewed 222 women in Chicago about their experiences in the sex trade. The women said that customers were the number one perpetrators of violence, both in indoor sex trade venues and on the street. Even women in escort services reported high rates of violence; more than half reported being raped. Instead of having compassion for prostituted people, our culture tends to blame these women for the harm they’ve endured.

Johns have also remained invisible as the public expressed surprise that prostitution could take place at a high-end hotel. In reality, most men who buy sex would have the means to pay for that hotel room. Ourresearch of 113 johns in Chicago found that most johns earned more than $40,000 a year, with 17% earning more than $80,000. These are men with disposable income, and they are facing few deterrents to their crime. Only 7% of men interviewed had ever been arrested for solicitation.

When conversations about women in prostitution come up, it’s time to stop stigmatizing women and start talking about johns. To learn more about efforts to create accountability for johns in Illinois and resources for survivors of the sex trade, visit

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Illinois' Anti-Trafficking Laws Among Best in Nation

Sex traffickers in Illinois should be warned: our state’s laws are improving each year and prosecutors are doing more to hold traffickers accountable for the harm they cause.

This week, Polaris Project announced their 2012 rating of U.S. human trafficking laws, state by state. Again, Illinois has become a leader on this list and is considered a Tier 1 state, which means our “State has passed significant laws to combat human trafficking, and should continue to take steps to improve and implement its laws.” Read the full report here.

CAASE is proud that our End Demand Illinois campaign has played a vital role in passing three anti-trafficking laws in our state in the past three years. Polaris Project is a partner on the EDI campaign and they have been important contributors to our policy committee, helping to shape new laws to hold traffickers accountable.

Just this past Saturday, Governor Pat Quinn signed our latest End Demand Illinois bill. Public Act 97-0897 reforms our state’s trafficking code to include tactics like “plans or schemes” that traffickers use to ensnare victims. It also closes a loophole so that fines collected from johns can be funneled into services for survivors of the sex trade. Learn more about the new law here.

Leeanna Majors (pictured above) is a survivor of sex trafficking and advocates with EDI campaign partner Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. She testified on behalf of the bill. "The bill is important so that women can be empowered to make a change in their lives, and the traffickers can be held accountable,” Majors said. “Survivors won’t need to show bruises to prove they were trafficked,” she added. Leeanna and CAASE’s Policy and Advocacy Director Lynne Johnson were interviewed on FOX Chicago about the law. Watch the full story here.

To learn more about End Demand Illinois, sign up for our action alerts. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Meet Runners who are Racing for CAASE!

Our Race for CAASE team has come together, and we are already impressed by their dedication to training, fundraising, and spreading the word about ending sex trafficking and sexual assault.

On September 9, 2012, there are 32 runners who will be racing in the Chicago Half Marathon to raise support for all of CAASE’s work. So far, they’re off to an incredible start—rallying to train and fundraise. With an overall goal of $17,000 and over $7,000 raised so far, the team is already well over 1/3 of the way there.
Racing 13.1 miles to end sexual exploitation is a big commitment. You can support the team by visiting their page here and making a donation. You can boost an individual runner’s goal by giving through their personal pages, or you can give to the effort in general here.

So who are some of these runners? We interviewed a few of CAASE’s interns who will be running the Half Marathon so you can see yourself!

Name: Kendra Harding
Age: 23
Hometown: Des Moines, Iowa
Occupation: Student/Intern at CAASE
Running Experience: I have run 5Ks and 10Ks for the past 7 years. I also ran my first Half-Marathon last January.
How did you find out about CAASE?
I was reading Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd of GEMS and on the back I saw a reference to CAASE. I immediately Googled it and learned everything I could about it.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I think CAASE is an amazing organization and I think it’s important that I support it because it has a lot of the same beliefs about society that I do. Plus, I love running.

Name: Rachel Johnson
Age: 27
Hometown: Oak Park, Illinois
Occupation: Law student/Legal intern at CAASE
Running Experience: Elementary school gym class.
How did you find out about CAASE? Through working in the public interest legal company. Also, my mentor at law school interned here.
Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most?
I would say in general, I really love CAASE’s holistic approach to ending demand in sexual exploitation through educational policy and legal policy. But as a law student, I’m specifically interested in how CAASE uses the law to promote equality and end sexual exploitation.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I believe in the work that we do here and I believe in the community here. I want to support it through academic and volunteer work, but also financially and with team effort.

Name: Margaret Livingston
Age: 26
Hometown: Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Occupation: Student/Legal Intern at CAASE
Running Experience: On and off.
How did you find out about CAASE? Lynne Johnson, CAASE's Policy and Advocacy Director, spoke at the Organization of Women and Trade at John Marshall Law School in the fall, and after I heard her speak I just hounded them in the fall to see when they were taking applications.
Is there any specific part of CAASE’s work/mission that interests you the most?
The Sexual Assault Justice Project. That’s what I work on and that’s really important because a lot of people who would otherwise have no access to legal aid or might be deterred from seeking justice can find a legal advocate here. I also think that the End Demand campaign is extremely important.
Why is running for CAASE important to you?
I thought it’d be a really fun way to get to know people outside of the office. The legal work can be challenging but fulfilling, and I wanted to continue challenging myself outside of my work life. 

This post is by Sasha Wolff, CAASE's communications intern.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

104 Pimps Arrested in FBI Sting

 CAASE and the End Demand Illinois campaign are working to raise awareness about the need for specialized, trauma-informed services for survivors of the sex trade. To learn more, read the proposal here.
News broke today that in a nationwide FBI sting, law enforcement brought in 79 minors who were being prostituted and arrested more than 100 pimps who had been exploiting minors in the sex trade. It’s a great sign of progress that law enforcement resources are being devoted to finding traffickers and holding them accountable, but as we look forward more must be done to offer resources to those who are trying to leave the sex trade. From the Chicago Tribune and Reuters:

Seventy-nine teenagers held against their will and forced into prostitution were rescued at hotels, truck stops and storefronts in a three-day sweep of sex-trafficking rings across the United States, law enforcement officials said on Monday.

The FBI said 104 alleged pimps were arrested during sting operations in 57 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toledo, Ohio. The operation lasted between Thursday and Saturday and involved state and local authorities as well as the FBI.

It’s a huge victory that 104 pimps were arrested, and we applaud this effort. It will send a strong message to other traffickers. However, the media coverage of this sting reveals that there is much left to be done to deepen understanding about the realities of the sex trade. The use of the words “teenage prostitute” and images of young people being held in handcuffs are the focus of the articles, while customers or “johns” remain invisible. No mention is made of the people who were buying sex from these teenagers and children, nor whether any customers were arrested in this sting.

In Illinois under the 2010 Safe Children Act, all minors in prostitution are considered victims of sex trafficking, and the words “juvenile prostitution” have been removed from our state law. Illinois is a leader in this area, as many states do not have laws recognizing that any and all minors in prostitution are being exploited by adults and deserve our help.

As law enforcement focuses attention on sex trafficking, the need for services for survivors of the trade becomes even more apparent. Where will these young people go to seek specialized services for their needs? In interviews with service providers around the country, CAASE has heard the need for specialized, trauma-informed, supportive services for survivors of the sex trade. These services do not exist for prostituted adults in Illinois, and only a few spaces are available for minors. CAASE and our End Demand Illinois campaign will soon be releasing have released a report on the need for specialized services for survivors of the sex trade. Read the proposal here, and see how services can help young people who are trying to leave the trade.

If you are interested in learning more about these issues, sign up for our campaign action alerts here. Stay tuned for more about our proposal for services in the coming weeks.

*Note: This post was updated on 7/24 to include the links to CAASE's full proposal for services for survivors of the sex trade.