Dear Johns

 

In this recent New York Times article is the announcement of a genuine revolution

Using someone for prostitution, pimping her out, screwing her, won’t get her arrested. In the great state of New York, those actions will force the men responsible behind bars . . . for a much longer time than before.

Used to be, women were seen as taking advantage of men. Prostitution was referred to as a “victimless crime”, as it still is in many places in the world. What’s the big deal?, people asked – as, no doubt, they’re still asking in Cartagena with regard to the scuzzy Secret Service agents who removed their wedding rings as soon as their flight’s wheels came up.

It is a big deal, and big business. More often than not, women and girls being prostituted are controlled by pimps who threaten them – or their family member or friends – for non-performance. These men take almost all the earnings, and in Fairfax, Virginia, one group was conveying teenage girls literally door-to-door in apartment complexes, ringing doorbells to ask if male strangers wanted a quickie.

Trafficked women are forced to accept male members multiple times a day.

That’s no “Happy Hooker”. That’s rape.

From the article: “Under the old charges, pimps typically faced up to 15 years in prison for promoting prostitution with an adult. The newer sex trafficking charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years. Also under the new law, the customers who pay adult prostitutes for sex face up to one year in jail, up from 90 days.

On Monday, 14 men, including a physician, an owner of an online ticket sales company and a concierge for a film-production company, were arraigned on charges of patronizing a prostitute. Most were offered a chance to plead guilty to disorderly conduct, a violation; two accepted the plea offer. Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said his office had embraced the new approach, long advocated by those who see brutal oppression of women as the defining component of the commercial sex trade.

‘They basically live as slaves of the pimps,’ Mr. Vance said. ‘These are sad cases. These are women who need help.’”

As did their predecessors who were living, literally, a fate worse than death (yes it is – forced sexual contact with numerous strangers who often injure or wound these women and girls, over and over and over). It’s taken centuries – millennia! – for prosecutors to begin to see prostitution as the trap and enslavement it is. It’s taken that long, too, for them to see the johns as not just men who want sex, but men who are keeping women in slavery.

“In a stark departure from decades of such prosecutions, the women who were working as prostitutes are not facing criminal charges but are instead being treated as their pimps’ victims, and offered services to help them build new lives.”

That’s an incredible about-face for law enforcement. Highly needed, too.

None of this would have been possible without a 2007 change of law in New York’s legislature. In the past, crossing state lines was the trigger that made pimps face the legal music for trafficking. Now, prosecutors examine the methods used by pimps to control and enslave women and girls in order to make a charge of sexual trafficking. If they’re working entirely in one county, one city, even a single neighborhood, women and girls are still being trafficked – because they’re being forced.

As word gets around New York, men who tell themselves they “need” sex with a total stranger (although species can die out from lack of sex, no person ever did) are going to recognize that using another person’s body, paying hundreds of dollars for a few minutes, carries the risk of jail in addition to shame. No longer are women the ones who are shamed and blamed. These days, they’re getting the help they’ve needed for forever.

Other states must follow New York’s example and pass their own contemporary trafficking laws.

Because such slavery and cruelty in the 21st century is unacceptable.

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Filed under Prostitution, Rape, Rape is torture

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