Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ignoring Demand Puts Exploitation on Repeat in Chicagoland

There is a pattern of sexual exploitation repeating over and over again in Chicagoland, and it is being ignored. Men are buying sex, and women are the only ones being punished for their crimes.

In the most recent (and particularly glaring) case this weekend, a woman was arrested in the Chicago suburbs for prostitution. The article begins by explaining how law enforcement was tipped off:

“After they observed an inordinate amount of customers, who would frequent a Warrenville spa for very short periods of time, police in the west suburb last month launched an investigation into the Green Spa, 2 S 610 IL Route 59.”

The reporter does not mention whether or not a single john was arrested. There was a veritable parade of johns right in front of law enforcement, and it seems that they may have failed to act. Arresting a dozen johns would have gone a tremendous way to curbing the sex trade in the community. How do we know? Johns say so themselves when they talk to each other in online message boards, as well as in CAASE's research on 113 johns in Chicago. They could be deterred from buying sex if they were arrested and charged. Instead, these men in Warrenville will continue to seek out places to buy sex.

Should businesses that are fronts for prostitution be shut down? Absolutely. But it’s highly unlikely that the one woman who was arrested in this sting was the person running that business, keeping the profits, or marketing the exploitation within the spa to potential customers. If those things were indeed happening, and someone else was in charge, it could potentially be a case of human trafficking. It’s also not clear who else was selling sex within the spa, and if any others were there by choice or against their will. As we saw in a case in Mt. Prospect, massage parlors can be fronts for sex trafficking.

What can you do to take action? Ask your local law enforcement to address demand. When you read stories like this one that are ignoring demand, reach out to the reporter and ask if any johns were arrested. Support legislative initiatives that hold pimps, johns and traffickers accountable while proposing support and services for prostituted people.

Start by signing up for our action alerts at End Demand Illinois and learning more at www.enddemandillinois.org

Photo by Thomas Hawk.