We Must Target the Buyers of Commercial Sex, Say Human Trafficking Experts at Capitol Hill Event
Washington, DC — Today, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC), in conjunction with Exodus Cry and Shared Hope International, hosted a briefing on how the demand for commercial sex fuels the global human trafficking industry, perpetuating a human rights crisis. Titled “The Demand Factor in the Global Sex Trade: Human Trafficking as a Human Rights Crisis,” the briefing, moderated by Executive Committee-member U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14), featured trafficking experts who delivered key information to a standing-room only crowd. Click here or the picture below to watch the video of the event.
“Sex trafficking...is an industry run largely by and for the benefit and profit of men. Men overwhelmingly tend to be the buyers of commercial sex. Frankly, we could end sex trafficking overnight if all men stopped buying sex. Human trafficking at its base, then, is an economic –albeit insidious –enterprise. It is fundamentally an issue of supply and demand.”
—Rep. Randy Hultgren (IL-14), Executive Committee, TLHRC
“Human trafficking is not only a pervasive crime that is hidden in plain sight, but it is an extraordinarily lucrative one perpetrated with a very low risk of punishment for the trafficker…it is the demand for prostitution that fuels it. We need laws like the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act that will both strengthen our trafficking laws and mandate a clear focus on targeting the demand that nourishes the thriving multi-billion dollar worldwide sex trade.”
—Taina Bien-Aimé, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW)
“The customers who patronize this illicit industry—who create the demand for kids and adults for sex, and thus who are responsible for sustaining it—do not match society’s stereotype. Overwhelmingly, they are not treated like the criminals they really are. They are doctors, they’re lawyers, they’re businessmen, they’re school teachers, they’re coaches, they’re even police officers. They have wives and children at home. They don’t look evil, and they are viewed by the public as model citizens. Yet if we’re ever going to have an impact on this problem, we have to create real deterrents.”
—Ernie Allen, Allen Global Consulting
“[People ask me]: Do the men who buy sex, do they really know who is being controlled? My own trafficking situation started back when I was nine years old…so when people ask me that, I say ‘Did someone know I was nine?’”
“[As a society] we created the word ‘john’ as name of a person who buys sex…we don’t want to know his real name. He has a family, he has a job that we don’t want him to lose, so we’ll normalize this. But women and girls and children who are forced into this we’ll call them a ‘prostitute’ and we’ll say it’s their fault. We created another word so that we don’t pay attention to child sexual abuse.”
—Tina Frundt, Founder and Executive Director, Courtney’s House and trafficking survivor
“As a survivor of prostitution, I can say that it most certainly is not a victimless crime. Men who buy sexual access to the bodies of women and girls do not simply assist and support the sex trade—they are responsible for creating it. If our legislators deal strongly with that demand, under the law, we will not have to worry about the pimps and the traffickers because our lawmakers will have put them out of business.”
“We seek to uphold the dignity of…all humanity in every way. We are God’s handiwork, priceless works of art, sculpted in greatness and made, from birth, to be treated with the gravest courtesy.
“You must have men who are willing to carry the torch and [say] that buying sex is a human rights violation against any human being.”
—Marian Hatcher, Project Manager at Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Programs, Cook County Sheriff’s Office
“We educate anyone and everyone. If you would’ve told me how many churches I go into to talk about sex trafficking, I never would’ve believed it. We do full day programs with school counselors…they need to know the signs of the victims of sex trafficking. We go to rural Georgia...and metro. Sex trafficking is everywhere—it’s not just in the ‘bad’ neighborhoods, it’s in every neighborhood.”
—Sam Olens, Attorney General, Georgia
“I have lived in America all my life and I was completely clueless that children were being sold, not only in my neighborhood but all around. I’m not the only one. Only because my child was victimized did I even understand what child trafficking was…Unless you make tougher penalties for people [committing] this crime, then it will continue. There will be more faces like mine and more parents [sharing] this same pain. And I don’t want to see that, ever.”
“The impression that [our youth] are getting is that it’s okay to victimize women. They see it as an okay thing to do to mildly sexually harass girls in school. In our country right now, our morals are so low because we are allowing so many things that were not okay in the past, and it’s being publicized…everything is so visible.”
—Kubiiki Pride, mother of a sex trafficking survivor and advocate against sexual exploitation of women and children
Rep. Hultgren has introduced H.R. 611, the Sex Trafficking Demand Reduction Act, which pushes nations to clamp down on the demand for commercial sex within their borders. In the Washington Post, Mark Lagon of Freedom House and Laila Mickelwait of Exodus Cry have urged Congress to pass this legislation.