H is for How Things Don’t Change

I’ve been doing abolition work for a couple years now. It feels like herding cats most days. I still run into cops and civilians that think children can consent to being prostitutes… and want to arrest them! I still have to tell other abolitionists to stop saying “runaway”. I still get shocked deer in the headlight looks when I correct stereotypes. I still have to fight with people that would legalize prostitution and lower consent ages.

I would love to say it’s less often, but it’s not. It would seem, that as technology has grown so fast, that ignorance and self interest have overtaken any sense of social responsibility most people have. Here is a top example:

If you talk to anyone in the “rescuing trafficking victims” racket, backpage is one of the easiest places to procure a child for sale. Now, I have mixed feelings on this shutdown, but not cause I think being sold like chattle is an inalienable human right. Frankly, it won’t attack demand or even slow down traffickers. Now, I’ll have to work ten times harder and probably have to do something unethical to ensure I can still rescue kids. I do mean kids.

The average age of prostitutes in the US is 16…. AVERAGE AGE.

Here’s one of my posts from last year, upon learning that several of the abolitionist and prolife groups I support, and work with, had been disinvited from attending the march.

Let me end with this. Even if you (wrongly) support legalization of prostitution, wouldn’t you still be opposed to enslaving men, women, and children? Can’t those two sentiments occupy the same headspace?

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Slow Your Roll

I see a lot of people celebrating the arrest of backpage execs. At first I was excited, but the cynical abolitionist in me took a longer look at the move by California and Texas authorities and I’m just not convinced that this is more than a token gesture… a PR stunt.

Technically and legally, I’m not sure they meet the definition of traffickers, at least no more than the ISPs/cell carriers the traffickers use, the company that invented bitcoin, or even long dead ancient races that invented currency based trade. Hell, if we’re pointing fingers, I dare say the hoteliers, apartments, and rentals found hosting these rings might be just as culpable. It’s an interesting turn, considering I was recently told that pornographers who produce and distribute child porn as currency are not traffickers…

So, what does this PR stunt accomplish? Raise awareness? Put online entities on notice? Awesome… Or will it drive the most cooperative online posting site in the world to a foreign country (or to the dark web) where it no longer has to cooperate with investigations; and will likely stop providing reporting tools and the plethora of information that is currently shares with law enforcement (upon request without warrants). I don’t like backpage, but in terms of big deals, it’s shooting a sedated lion.

My only hope is that this easy win (for today at least..) inspires other jurisdictions to learn more about how they can combat trafficking in their backyards. I really would rather see the millions upon millions that will be spent pursuing this, being used to train departments, advocates, and open more hospital beds and programs to survivors.

So, what’s my suggestion for all of you? Get back to work. Talk about trafficking to the uninformed, let your leadership know that punishments are inadequate, ask you local victim programs what they need, DEMAND RESILIENCY TRAINING IN SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES, share missing child posters, and be a cheerleader for the boots on the ground. I cannot stress that enough. It’s totally self serving, but in those quiet minutes in the wee hours or when traffic lulls my mind, the weight of it all really hits. I don’t know anyone in this racket that doesn’t struggle. Your support is everything.