Wednesday, August 26, 2015
TO THE OC REGISTER
After reading this article - http://www.ocregister.com/articles/trafficking-630795-county-human.html
I wrote this letter to the writer:
In reading over your other articles - I have to admit I’m confused. I’m not seeing a clear distinction between prostitution and sex trafficking which are two different issues. You also are blending in the cases of minors in with adults - which again from a legal standpoint are very different.
For example, any sex, whether commercial or not, with anyone under 18 years of age in California is considered statutory rape. That said - trafficking and prostitution are two different things. Yet I’m seeing you report signs of “trafficking” which are in fact signs of “prostitution”. They're different.
It’s important for this reason - when we started the movement to have sex trafficking recognized it was because our legal system wasn’t set up to address the issue. You touch upon it lightly when you point out that Oreo was “recruiting in group homes”. What that entails in reality is that often the people who run these group homes are involved. Meaning they can’t go to the authorities to report what’s going on because the authorities are often who is involved in the trafficking. This was the problem back in the 1980’s - and why we said that a SEPARATE and NEW system had to be set up to report trafficking for that reason. I can show you case after case to prove my point - like Chris Butler or even the NJ strip club owned by DEA agents. These victims can’t go to the authorities for help because their traffickers ARE the authorities.
Further complicated with the fact prostitution is illegal. Meaning if you try and reach out for help - you're incriminating yourself. It means witnesses don’t want to come forward either for fear of incrimination also. Again, why a separate and new system needed to be created for us.
Another disturbing issue you glossed over is that of the children by the pimps. This is not a light matter at all. In fact, it’s quite complicated. It’s routine for pimps to impregnate their victims as soon as possible so that they can’t leave. The reason is parental rights. The mother can’t leave without giving him a forwarding address EVER or she’ll be charged with kidnapping.
This is one of the most difficult challenges in leaving a pimp - the fact that he’ll call the FBI and report her for kidnapping if she does try and leave him. Many of our members have had to run to Canada where they don’t extradite for just that reason.
Another is that when the child gets old enough - they also threaten the mother with pimping the child if she doesn’t continue working for him. So you find the cycle of abuse continues through three generations routinely.
I was also concerned you showed these girls faces in the interview. You may not be aware of the consequences and neither do they until too late - but speaking as someone who has been granting interviews for 30 years and our countless members who have also done so - please consider NOT running photos of their faces.
We’ve heard stories of women who have been fired, evicted, even sexually assaulted because of being identified as a prostitute in the news or on TV. It does not matter how long ago either - I’ve been out of the life since 1985 and if you run a story today with my face I will have landlord who will evict me, employers who will fire me, and depending on the situation it does subject one to sexual harassment even rape. Remember, that many judges don’t consider rape of a prostitute anything other than “theft of services”. By the time you run your story, and they then suffer these consequences it’s too late.
Often it may not come up for years. We have women in our group who did interviews for us in the 1990’s - who report those photos are coming up now they’re trying to find work, or even to date someone and it’s becoming complicated. That’s why we stopped the practice entirely back in the mid-1990’s. We were finding the consequences just too stiff.
Now we suffered them in the 1980’s because we had to. We had to convince the world trafficking as real and existed. Well now we’ve proved that point - so there’s no reason to show our faces any more to prove our stories are real.
I see you do a lot of these articles and was wondering if we could talk because I just see some areas here of confusion maybe I can help you with when it comes to writing stories about this very complicated world. Thank you.