Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times posted a column today about pimps who are using websites like Backpage.com to facilitate the trafficking of girls as young as 13. We’re heartened that the issue of domestic sex trafficking is receiving more attention and that pimps are being seen for what they really are--traffickers. Kristof calls for the shut down of websites that are making it easy on pimps:
“It’s true that there’s some risk that pimps will migrate to new Web sites, possibly based overseas, that are less cooperative. But, on balance, that’s a risk worth taking. The present system is failing. Pimps aren’t the shrewdest marketers, and eliminating a hub for trafficking should at least chip away at the problem.“
Kristof points out that ordering a girl for sex off the internet is as easy as ordering a pizza. That's not the first time we've heard that comparison, and he's sadly very right: When Rachel Durchslag, CAASE's executive director, interviewed 113 johns in Chicago, on purchaser said: "I usually call for a girl, you know, like a pizza.” There are so many disturbing things happening there--a girl being a commodity, available to order--it's important to know that johns are a driving force as much as pimps are.
Kristof identifies the issue of encouraging law enforcement to go after pimps in the first place, and we are fortunate locally that Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Sheriff Tom Dart are embracing the End Demand approach. We’ve seen signs of progress in Illinois, with local stings that led to the arrests of more than 10 traffickers and 27 johns.
There is much more to be done, however, and you can help address this problem in Illinois. Through our End Demand Illinois campaign, prevention curriculum for young men and direct legal services for survivors of the sex trade, CAASE is working to hold perpetrators accountable and advocating for supportive services for survivors of the sex trade. You can:
1. Sign up for the End Demand Illinois Action Alerts to keep up with the latest news and advocacy efforts. If you're already signed up, share Kristof's article with a friend and ask them to sign up!
2. Bring CAASE’s curriculum for young men to a high school near you. Our instructor talks to the students about the realities of the commercial sex trade and human trafficking. Young men are asked to consider how pressures to “be a man” can influence their decisions to patronize the sex trade.
3. Make a donation to support CAASE’s work, which includes legal services for survivors of the sex trade.
For more information visit www.caase.org and www.enddemandillinois.org