Further proof that sex trafficking is a local problem, Alex Campbell was convicted in a federal trial for selling women and girls out of a massage parlor in the Chicago suburb of Mt. Prospect. Campbell recruited and prostituted women using force, fraud, and coercion and had his name tattooed on their bodies to claim his ownership. While CAASE applauds this successful conviction of a known sex trafficker, we also urge the community to hold the men who purchase sex (johns) accountable, as well. Johns come from all walks of life, races, religions, and economic classes, and they are directly responsible for fueling the perpetual demand of sex trafficking.
It is great to see that Alex Campbell was convicted, especially after the dramatic journey of his prosecution. You may recall that a witness in this case recognized the previous defense lawyer as a patron of the massage parlor. While the defense attorney claimed that he had never bought sex and simply went for a massage, he was dismissed from the case. We are glad to see that the prior histrionics surrounding this case did not prevent justice being served.
This case dispels the common misconception that the women employed in these massage parlors are there by choice. Typically, johns pay a house fee of $60 - $90 per half hour or hour plus occasional tips; the women are pressured to "please the customer" in order to receive tips. These unpredictable tips are the women's sole source of income to pay the numerous fees and interest rates they are charged by the network. The men who frequent these establishments are knowingly there to buy sex, fueling the demand for trafficked women.
In a CAASE study of 113 johns, 20 % of interviewees thought that they had bought sex from women who were trafficked from other countries. Many more certainly purchased sex from trafficked women without realizing it or caring. CAASE supports the continued prosecution of sex traffickers, and also urges law enforcement to focus more attention on demand. To learn more about how you can help end demand, visit End Demand, IL.
This post is from Lauren Rankin, CAASE's communications intern.