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.

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