Let’s Blame Everyone but the Johns

culture and society

I was driving the girls to school today when I heard on the news that a massive sting resulted in the arrest of 104 men in New York who hired prostitutes for sex.  Turns out, those prostitutes were actually undercover cops.  They had placed “craigslisty” type ads and these men responded, showed up to hotel rooms, pulled out cash with the intent to pay for sex, and then were immediately arrested.  The punishment didn’t stop there, however…  All 104 men were publicly named in the news along with their photos.

from the Nassau County DA’s Office, black bars added

The goal?  To send a strong message that prostitution is illegal, and if you pay for sex, you are a criminal.

“This whole concept of looking at johns as victims — they’re not victims!” explained Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.  “They’re further exploiting and victimizing trafficked women and men.”

On the one hand, 104 men have been publicly shamed.  Their families have to deal with that, these men potentially face a year in prison, and perhaps their careers will suffer.  On the other hand, it’s about damn time someone started calling these men out on criminal activity.

I “like” all of my local news stations on Facebook.  Frequently, one news station will post a mug shot of a prostitute with a caption, “45 year old woman arrested for prostitution in Manchester.”  They include a bit.ly link to the actual news article.  I cringe, and wait for the comments to come in.

“Ew, who would have sex with that?”
“I’d pay her to stay away from me.”

No one, of course, is making comments about anyone who hired the prostitute, because they aren’t named.  The news station does this, presumably, because these prostitution posts are really popular.  Often, half a dozen or so prostitutes have been arrested in a sting, but they make sure to post the photo that will illicit the most comments.  Usually, this means the oldest prostitute of the bunch.

The NY Post ran an article about the sting with the title “Heeeeere’s the ‘johnnies’!  104 horndogs exposed in prostitution sting’s wall of shame.

The NY Daily News ran the names of the 104 men.  Rice, the DA, is getting blasted left and right for her decision to make the names public.  The comments are vicious “Hey Rice….what can I get from your bobble-head feminazi for like 150 roses?” (‘Roses,’ by the way, is code for dollars.  A prostitute can put an ad up on backpage.com, and since ‘roses’ aren’t dollars, it’s not prostitution until money exchanges hands), but I like what she said here:

“Anyone who thinks this is a victimless crime has not met a sex worker.”

Sex trafficking is a huge yet not widely known issue in the United States.  For some reason, many think this is something widespread only in Thailand or Russia, but according the UN, human trafficking generates $9.5 billion yearly in the United States.  80% of human trafficking victims are women, and 50% are minors.

Internationally speaking, 600,000 – 800,000 people are bought and sold across borders each year; 50% are children, most are female. The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade.

Children, you guys.  Children are being forced into becoming sex workers, and we’re supposed to be sad for the dentists and doctors who may lose their licensing because they hired a prostitute?  Not a chance.

local ad

This ad was found after a 30 second search on backpage.  I omitted the photos of a young girl (she advertises as being 20 years old) wearing a bra and a thong.  There are hundreds of ads like this for the Hartford, CT area alone.

I am fully aware that not all prostitutes are victims of sex trafficking, but SO many are.  In this country.  In Connecticut.  I remember reading this article (long, worth the read) two years ago and it blew my mind.  This isn’t Bangkok, this is freaking Newington.  This is where I grew up.  These are children being bought and sold like candy in a convenience store.  They’re abused and enslaved, and prostitution is a victimless crime?

In truth, I felt a little badly scrolling through the photos of the men arrested.  I feel badly for their families, but I feel worse that these men put their spouses at risk for contracting a disease.  I’m actually cheering on the DA’s office right now, because this means that hiring prostitutes is being seen as criminal activity.  The prostitutes, trafficked or not, aren’t the only rule breakers in this scenario.  The clients are guilty, and their money is increasing the demand for prostitutes, which is perpetuating sex trafficking.

Holding people accountable to their crimes – even if they’re respected white-collar workers in the community – is a good start in the fight to end sex trafficking.

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  • Reply Annie June 4, 2013 at 10:40 am

    A-freaking-men. OMG. Seriously – these men deserve the shaming!! I am shocked and disgusted that anyone would stand up for them and say “oh those poor innocent men!” What-ever. No matter what you watch on HBO or read on sleazy magazines, no woman actually CHOOSES that lifestyle. Those women and girls need HELP and we need to get serious as a nation and culture that this is unacceptable.

  • Reply Kaylyn June 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

    OHMYGOODNESS thank you so much for this post. Trafficking has been on my heart and in my prayers heavily the past year and a half. Working with college students, we’ve done a lot to raise awareness and volunteer at local non-profits working to combat this in Baltimore City. Here in Baltimore, the AVERAGE age of females entering prostitution is 13. You cannot tell me that a 13 year old girl (or 8 year old girl…) is willingly signing up for this. We can blame the pimps all day long, but we also need to be targeting and blaming the johns. It is NOT OKAY that there is demand to have sex with 6-year-old girls.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      That is so so so sad, Kaylyn. So great that you’re working to raise awareness. xo

  • Reply Haley June 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Yes! Yes Yes!

  • Reply Kat Gray June 4, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

  • Reply Mary H. June 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for this! Great post. We definitely need more awareness in the US.

  • Reply Jessica Hill June 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

    I completely agree with you. While my heart absolutely BREAKS for the families of these men, the men have no one to blame but themselves. The whole situation makes my stomach turn. I hope bringing massive attention to these men’s crimes can put a dent in the sex trade in America, but it’s a long road ahead.

  • Reply Tricia June 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Great post! I’m glad this is being brought to light, and it’s amazon how much I’m hearing lately about how huge this problem of sex trafficking really is. These guys and their families may be embarrassed, but they should be. They’ve done wrong.

  • Reply Kristin June 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I agree with you all the way. Post their names and faces all over. Each and every single one of them! Maybe that will be the beginning of the end of this SICK SICK mess.
    Unfortunately this is also a huge problem in OK, being in the middle of the country with easy access to all corners of the country. Its just gross and sick and needs to end.

  • Reply Sara June 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Amen sistah

  • Reply MissCaron June 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

    AMEN. Supply and demand. It’s unfortunate but this goes for everything in this country… without demand there would be no need for supply. So sad!

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Agreed. I hope this goes to help dropping the demand.

  • Reply Kelly June 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s something I wasn’t aware (my head in the almost out of school sand the last few days), and it’s an important conversation.

    I am always stunned and shocked when I read about sex trafficking.

    I think it’s a wonderful thing that the byers were exposed. While I have sympathy for everyone involved-those men need to face their choices and learn from them. I hope this will start a new era of sharing this information publicly instead of solely sharing (and blaming) sex workers who in many cases didn’t choose that profession.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm

      Yeah YEAH girl on that last sentence.

  • Reply Kate June 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

    Excellent post and I’m really impressed that the DA published the names and photos. If you get OWN, you should try and watch Our America with Lisa Ling where she has done a few episodes about domestic human sex trafficking. I wasn’t naive to the fact that this happens, but it was still shocking to see how young some of these girls are and how it is happening under our noses. http://www.oprah.com/own-our-america-lisa-ling/our-america-blog.html?filter_tag=3AM Girls

  • Reply Caryn June 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Thankyouthankyouthankyou for writing this! This whole “the John is not to blame (presumably because he just can’t help himself)” thing really really gets me. I’m a grad student in maternal and child health and this is one thing we talk about. One of my classmates actually did a project this spring all about trafficking into the United States and it’s crazy scary how often it happens. In our own backyards. I live in Nebraska, which is apparently huge for trafficking. Anyway, thank you for writing about such an important topic.

  • Reply Meg June 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    I completely agree that if prostitution is a crime, both people willingly engaging in it should be arrested – not just the women. However, I have to say that the entire practice of releasing names/photos of anyone arrested or charged with any crime does not sit well with me. If they’ve been convicted? Absolutely. But there are plenty of people who may be arrested without being charged with a crime, or who are charged but not convicted because they are found to actually be innocent. And while their arrest/charges may have been splashed on the front page, the dropping of charges/etc. rarely receives the same amount of coverage – and still cannot undo the damage done to the innocent person and their family by having their lives dragged through the mud in front of their entire community/nation. Not saying these guys are innocent specifically – just that our legal and media systems seem to forget that we are all innocent until proven guilty…not just under suspicion/arrested/charged/etc. And a conviction in the court of public opinion can be just as devastating as an actual (and thus usually deserved) one.

    • Reply Sarah June 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      I like what you said here, Meg. I was feeling uneasy about it too and couldn’t put my finger on why.

      Also, I don’t think I’m anti-prostitution (in fact, I think i’d be okay with legalizing it) as long as it’s between consenting adults. Everything would be much safer I think if there was a light shined on it and there were rules and regulations.

      • Reply Roo June 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

        C&P my response to Meg: I agree that people should not be deemed guilty until proven so, however… suspects get their photos pasted in the news all the time. They use words like “allegedly” to tell the reader that this suspect has not yet been proven guilty.

        Casey Anthony was all over the news before she received her verdict. So were Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky in the Cheshire home invasions. This is the norm for for the media.

        I feel like… with the argument of legalizing prostitution… that it wouldn’t stop people from being forced into it. “Yes, I’m a consenting adult… but, I’m consenting because my pimp has threatened to kill my family.”

    • Reply Roo June 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I agree that people should not be deemed guilty until proven so, however… suspects get their photos pasted in the news all the time. They use words like “allegedly” to tell the reader that this suspect has not yet been proven guilty.

      Casey Anthony was all over the news before she received her verdict. So were Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky in the Cheshire home invasions. This is the norm for for the media.

      • Reply Meg June 6, 2013 at 1:09 pm

        But what about the UNC (i think) boys accused of rape? They were plastered all over the news – and it turns out they were innocent. Fortunately they had the money/lawyers to get their innocence plastered all over the news as well – but that isn’t the case for most people. Just because it’s the norm for the media doesn’t mean it should be.

        • Reply ~abi~ June 10, 2013 at 11:07 am

          but weren’t these all men who showed up and paid for prostitution? how is there a possibility of innocence in these cases?

          • Meg June 10, 2013 at 11:33 am

            I agree that in this particular case, their innocence is Highly questionable. Unfortunately, the world-wide media release isn’t isolated to such cases.

          • ~abi~ June 10, 2013 at 11:48 am

            but that’s what we are talking about here, right? these particular cases. in general, i see the point raised about innocent until proven guilty, but it seems that doesn’t apply here. it seems that is the only objection being raised here, to this post in these comments. but i don’t see how it applies. and shouldn’t we as society try to treat things more on a case-by-case basis as opposed to lumping all reactions into categories? just my opinion. :)

          • Meg June 10, 2013 at 11:56 am

            That actually exactly highlights it – in this case, with the information the media has released in conjunction with their names and faces, we are assuming that they are guilty – before they have had a chance at a fair trial. And if we go case by case, then that is putting the media in charge of who is guilty or innocent before trial in order to determine whether or not to release their information. Shouldn’t that all be kept private until an actual trial with judge and jury determines guilt or innocence?

          • Roo June 10, 2013 at 3:00 pm

            I’ll write here what I said to Abi… the issues with the media posting identities of suspects instead of criminals is an entirely separate issue.

            Blanket media issues aside, I’m okay with this.

          • Roo June 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm

            I agree with you on this, Abi. The issues with the media posting suspects instead of convicted criminals is an entirely separate topic altogether.

      • Reply Sarah June 7, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        Our guilty until proven innocent system exists to protect those who are not yet convicted, which really, could be any of us any day. I could be accused of anything at any time and I would hate for my picture to be plastered on the news because my life would be ruined. Just because it’s done all the time doesn’t mean it’s right. Now for the ones who are convicted in a court of law then YES post it!! I hate victim blaming or how we protect men in these cases when they abuse women.

  • Reply Whitney Dupuis June 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

    AMEN! If you commit a crime, then you deserve to be held accountable for it! The DA’s office is doing what they swore to do – uphold the law. Sorry if it doesn’t cater to everyone. I pray for their families – their children!

  • Reply Nicole Fende June 4, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Thank you for posting this. I feel zero remorse for these guys. They committed a crime. They endangered their spouse. And do you think they took a single second to consider what they were actually doing to a possibly underage girl?

    I lived in Asia for 3.5 years, and while yes the problem is more obvious there (while it may be technically illegal, no one does anything about it) guess who a lot of the customers were? Western men – Europeans and Americans. In Thailand girls can get sold into prostitution by their own families. (You can read more about that on http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/)

    The most concerning to me is that attitude you’ve highlighted about the “johns” vs. the prostitutes. That nudge, nudge, wink, wink attitude towards the men.

    • Reply Roo June 5, 2013 at 9:25 am

      Thanks for that link, Nicole. When I originally read the Vanity Fair article (linked above), I was surprised to see that girls were sold into prostitution by relatives… in Connecticut. That’s insane to me.

      Right, that “men will be men” mentality is pretty disgusting.

      • Reply Nicole Fende June 6, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        I guess I missed the “Newington” part. Wow… I used to live in the Hartford area myself, it really hits home doesn’t it?

        • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 2:57 pm

          Absolutely. Then you think of all of those seedy little motels on the Berlin Turnpike….

  • Reply Cara June 4, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Yes!! Well said, and 100% correct! It’s about time we start holding the “johns” responsible. I don’t feel sorry for them, but as you said, I feel sorry for their families.

  • Reply Stephanie R June 4, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Thank you so much for posting this Roo. Sex trafficking is a HUGE problem not only in the world, but right here in our country. My sister and I watched a movie on Netflix a few years ago that just made me lose faith in humanity alittle. (I think it’s still available; it’s called Trade.) Also, I watched a documentary on sex trafficking in college called Very Young Girls. So horrifying and sad. However, it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable a topic is, people need to educate themselves and become aware of what’s going on!

  • Reply Brittany June 4, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Preach it girl! I hate the way these women are judged as disgusting and less than human, but the guys just get a laugh from their friends and a shake of the head. My bro-in-law just had some friends go to Vegas and a couple of them got hookers. All I could think about were those poor girls who had drunk, fat, 30-year-old guys thinking they were cool for paying money for time with them. It made me sick and I held my girls so tight that night. I hope exposing the men who are arrested in these situations becomes a new norm. They deserve it!

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Ugh, that is so awful that it happens and it’s like a “fun” thing. Let’s go to Vegas, tip some strippers, and get some hookers, like it’s just a normal boys’ night out.

  • Reply Tamara June 4, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Thank you for this post! It’s ridiculous to call out the prostitute while letting the “John” hide. It’s downright shameful how the “Johns” are excused by society. Also, a big high five to you for bringing up human trafficking. Awareness seems to be on the rise, which is a good start.

  • Reply Kelsey McEvoy June 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    I just read an article in my fancy The Washingtonian magazine (I bought a subscription because it makes me feel like a grown-up) about the huge child prostitution rings that they’re busting right here in Fairfax County, VA, where my one school-aged child goes to school. The article makes sure to talk up the fact that Fairfax County is the 2nd richest in the nation, to show that this type of stuff can happen — literally — anywhere, even the places you’d least expect. It’s sick. These particular johns have started recruiting using social media, preying on girls who post about difficulties at school or home, and who post about being bullied or having low self-esteem. I tried searching for the article on the magazine’s site but you have to have a paid subscription to read current features…Wait another few weeks and it’ll be up there fo’ free.

    • Reply Roo June 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Holy cow. Yeah, I’d love to read that article, Kelsey. Could you tell me what it’s called?

      • Reply Kelsey McEvoy June 7, 2013 at 7:32 am

        It’s titled “You’re Pretty – You Could Make Some Money” and it’s written by Marisa M. Kashino for The Washingtonian Magazine :) Super good read!

        • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

          Thanks, Kelsey!

          • Kelsey McEvoy June 10, 2013 at 12:06 pm

            You’re welcs*!

            *you’re welcs = what my 8 year old says to me when I say “thanks” instead of “thank you”, to which she then and only then replies “you’re welcome”. Good luck when your girls reach that age.

  • Reply Emily {Pink Tiger in the Kitchen} June 4, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    All I have to add is…


  • Reply Monica June 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Thanks for posting about such an important topic Roo. It actually infuriates me to see constant criminalization of sex-workers and victimization of Johns. I actually worked with street-based sex-workers in Public Health settings for about 10 years. When I moved away from Harm Reduction work and into research, I interviewed sex-workers about intimate details about their lives. Many are unaware of the fact that (in addition to trafficking) most female sex-workers engage in survival-sex as an only option. Their lives are often enmeshed in housing instability, severe child sexual abuse, mental illnesses and addiction. In a male-dominated drug market – they have no other choice for survival. When these women are arrested and criminalized there is often no rehabilitation and counseling. They are often physically abused, raped and even murdered by Johns – but their deaths are never publicly acknowledged because they “are nothing”. I can’t agree with you more in regards to holding John’s accountable. They continue to fuel this dark market and put their families at massive risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections. Great post.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Monica, thank you for sharing your insight. So sad… all of it. :(

  • Reply Rebecca June 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Amen, sister.

  • Reply kirby June 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Good for the DA, people assume ALL prostitues WANT to sell their bodies, sell their souls but that is NOT the case. I recall working at Bank of America about 4-5 years ago (before kids) when I met a client who was talking about child/human traffiking right in New Haven, CT. I thought he was CRAZY, but he talked about how he was fighting to end it, which crazy or not, it admirable. Years (not too many) later, through friends, I was introduced to the amazing organization LOVE146, who is taking a front row seat to end human trafficking. That client, who i thought was crazy, he’s one of the men who works for this organization, which made me feel stupid but also broke my heart that it was not just a crazy man with a crazy dream. THIS IS REAL, this really happens, children-boys and girls, are being sold and not in some 3rd world conuntry, this is happening in our backyard, in our home town. Innocent children, kidnapped, sold, purchased, for sex, it’s SICKENING, it’s maddening, it’s heart-breaking, and as I sit here thinking about these people who “comment” in regards to the actual prostitues who are arrested and have their photos blasted all over the internet, it makes me angry! I am so angry that these human being are concerned more with the looks of the prostitue than the story, or the “Johns” who solicited her, or the FAMILIES….the wives, the children, the sisters, the brothers, mothers, fathers, affected by this man or woman’s decision to pay someone for SEX.

    This whole topic goes deeper than “oooooOOOOO……he/she paid someone for sexual favors” or “dang I wouldn’t pay her to look at me”, it’s more than just the prostitutes and the Johns! Some of these women, were sold as children, for sex….FOR SEX, ugh….I’m so angry thinking that these children had such innocence and bright futures that were stolen from them. It’s men and women with mental issues, who sometimes are married and have families, who CHOOSE to go out and pay for sex rather than find it at home or even worse, pay for sex and then bring diseases home to someone who is blind to what their spouse is doing.

    I applause the DA, I applause you, and anyone else who puts these Johns on blast. Yes, it’s so sad for their families, but they made the decision to do this to their families.

  • Reply Laura June 4, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    I don’t care who you are, you don’t get to hide if guilty of a crime like this…let them be shamed and maybe people will learn.

    • Reply Roo June 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

      I hope that’s one of the real consequences of this.

  • Reply Jacqueline June 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    I’ve watched both “Taken” movies and my, then fiancé, laughed off the fact that I was so disturbed. It was common knowledge to him that this happens, like just another part of daily life. It blows my mind that this does and could happen to people and children we know and love and that someone could laugh it off as “normal”. I think it’s great to be in the know of what truly goes on in our country, in our home towns. Great post.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      I really liked the Taken movies, and yes, it’s awful. I was really exposed to it more through an organization called Love 146. Learned a lot: http://love146.org/

  • Reply Julie June 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    This is great, Roo.

    I am shocked at how many people use the phrase “it’s a victimless crime.” It’s as if they say it simply because they’ve heard it before, or maybe it is the only comment they can make when uncomfortable conversation about prostitution and trafficking comes up. I think “it’s a victimless crime” is a statement for people who choose to be ignorant, who choose not to be informed.

    27 million men, women and children are enslaved throughout the world, more than ever before in history. This is not a victimless crime and those who do nothing, those who choose ignorance, are part of the problem.

    • Reply Roo June 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

      Agreed, Julie. The sad and scary parts of it (the trafficking) doesn’t seem to get a lot of press in the US, and I think so many just don’t understand how bad it is.

  • Reply Leanne June 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I’m cheering on the DA’s decision too.

  • Reply Natasha June 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    THANK YOU for sharing this. Prostitution seems to be so ‘glamorized’ lately, but 90% is not glamorous, it is desperate and ugly and sad. It is so sad how much trafficking is out there.

    • Reply Roo June 4, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      So many movies show this gorgeous, glamorous prostitute and a good looking, clean cut client. It’s not like that; not at all.

  • Reply Catherine June 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    What an important topic and what a great thing this DA has done! I always thought the ‘john’s’ were way worse than the prostitutes.

  • Reply Liz E. June 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    love love love this post. Thanks so much for stepping out there; too often the public (and the media) focus on only one part of the story. It’s a two-way street, just like you said, and if the demand wasn’t there the supply wouldn’t be, either. And especially when it involves people (children! I cringe…) who are actually forced into it? It needs to be stopped.

  • Reply Michelle Lim June 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Ditto to the nth degree.

  • Reply Tiffany June 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Way to go, girl! *fist bump*
    Thank you for posting this. It’s an uncomfortable topic, and too easy to ignore. But these are real people (kids even, egads!) who are enslaved. SLAVES! Can you imagine? horrific. Kudos to the DA. Kudos to you, Roo!
    We can’t keep sweeping these people’s lives under the rug of shame because “little ole me can’t do anything to stop it!” Well we can talk about it, right? little actions add up!

  • Reply Vanessa June 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Yes. Yes. Thank you for sharing this, Roo. The fact that anyone could consider these johns to be victims is astonishing to me. In Canada (I think everywhere, but I could be wrong) it’s actually only illegal to solicit a prostitute; not to actually be a prostitute. The goal is to make it safer for the girls – not having to hide out in places where they can be easily assaulted, etc. Beyond safety concerns, it also puts all of the onus on the johns and pimps, where it should be.

  • Reply Emily June 4, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Amen! I couldn’t agree more and I couldn’t have said it better!

  • Reply christina @ homemade ocean June 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    Well it is about time. If there wasn’t a market for prostitution then there wouldn’t be a crime. I have always thought the Johns are the guilty ones…they create the need. And what’s worse is that they generally “need” little girls. Those girls don’t stand a chance.

    Thanks for creating awareness :)

  • Reply Erma June 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I watch Law & Order: SVU and it freaks me out to think that a lot of their episodes are based on events that are/have happened in our country. Hearing about Charles Ramsey’s heroic rescue made me so uncomfortable to think that human trafficking could be happening in my own neighborhood at this moment for all I know. And it breaks my heart to hear of girls who have their lives and futures stolen from them, taken away from their loved ones, and their bodies used and abused. I mean gosh, it’s a much deeper problem than a bunch of men wanting to pay for sex. There are more lives ruined other than public shaming and a year in prison for the Johns. Thanks for bringing this to light, Roo.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:34 pm

      I can’t even watch SVU because it just wrecks me. So sad that this is real life.

  • Reply Lauren June 4, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Agreed!! The woman who did my wedding photos does a lot of work with the A21 campaign in our city. You might want to check it out:
    Thanks for talking about it- it really is crazy how little it’s discussed and how difficult it can be to get out.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks for the link, Lauren!

  • Reply Kristine June 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Great post! Even though we live in a 1rst world country (well I’m in Toronto actually- Hey!) these are still very real in all of our communities….awareness about all offenders involved is great *clap clap clap* @ the DA’s office who made those pics public, the so called victims are going to have to deal with it.

  • Reply Aya June 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Amazing post Roo. I bet you thought twice before publishing, seeing as its a little outside your regular topics, but good job for writing on something so important and timely. Your readers want to hear EVERYTHING you have to say :)

  • Reply Katherine June 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    I am ashamed to say this- but I really really want to turn my head and pretend that none of this is happening. But it is in my face these days, via friends posting links on facebook or blogs (coughcough) or just conversations with friends.


    I have zero sympathy for these perps.

    Their families? Their kids? Oh my word- I pray for strength for them to endure. The shame would be incredible.

    I’m glad you posted this.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      I totally understand, Katherine… this junk is hard. :(

  • Reply Heather J. June 4, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Hi, Roo – love your blog, love your style, and love your sense of humor. Seriously. Love all of it.

    I’ve got to echo Meg’s sentiments on this one, though. I have no problem with the DA outing/publishing photos and names of people who have been CONVICTED of a crime. I’ve taken enough sociology/criminology classes to know that shaming can be a huge deterrent to committing crime and recidivism.

    But as a lover of the Constitution of the United States, and civil rights, it does not sit well with me that persons ACCUSED of a crime – not convicted and not otherwise proved of guilt – would be outed in such a public forum. Every single person in this country – regardless of citizenship or the crime with which they are charged – is innocent until proven guilty.

    I 100% agree that human trafficking, worldwide, is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. The fact of the matter is, if prostitution were decriminalized and regulated like it is in some cities in this country and in places around the world, the women involved in the trade would have better protections, and trafficking of women of ALL ages – not to mention boys and young men involved – would not be nearly as prevalent as it is now.

    • Reply Roo June 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      (Copying and pasting my reply to Meg.) I agree that people should not be deemed guilty until proven so, however… suspects get their photos pasted in the news all the time. They use words like “allegedly” to tell the reader that this suspect has not yet been proven guilty.

      Casey Anthony was all over the news before she received her verdict. So were Steven Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky in the Cheshire home invasions. This is the norm for for the media.

  • Reply JC June 5, 2013 at 6:39 am

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Please visit our website http://www.thea21campaign.org to find out how to help out an end to this injustice!!

  • Reply Karen F June 5, 2013 at 8:35 am

    great post, Roo

  • Reply Maura June 5, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Thanks for saying this. I´d be curious to know how you´d respond to statements such as
    ¨Legalization and regulation of prostitution would go a long way to reducing, if not altogether eliminating, the sickening abuse of nonadult prostitutes and desperately poor women who are imported here to become virtual sex slaves and cheated out of “wages” by thugs of all descriptions.¨

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/time-legalize-prostitution-article-1.1086261#ixzz2VLihNy19

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

      I disagree. Not sure how you’d regulate prostitution or make it safe. It just makes “legal” prostitute way more expensive. The Bunny Ranch in Nevada is a great case. I recall reading that their rates are about 5x the price of a high-end call girl’s rates. Competition is still fierce. I’m not sure how safety would be enforced, either. Are there on-the-spot 30 second STD tests that can tell a prostitute if her new client has HIV or a venereal disease or vice versa?

      Girls are being sold into prostitution at the age of 13… on AVERAGE… which means lots of men aren’t looking to have legal sex with a 30 year old woman who puts everything on the books. They’re pedophiles wanting to defile seven year old girls.

      • Reply Maura June 11, 2013 at 7:52 am

        Thanks for taking the time to respond to this. For the record, I´m totally with you on this. I only recently came across some individuals arguing for legalization and found myself at a loss to respond. You´re absolutely right that legal prostitutes will and do charge more and there will always be competition from often cheaper, unregulated (and, in many cases, underaged) sex workers.

  • Reply Alisa June 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Thank you so much for writing this thoughtful post and shining a light on this tragic issue.

  • Reply Bethaney June 5, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Wow. I’m glad law enforcement is releasing their names. Hopefully it will discourage others from doing the same.

  • Reply carrie @carrieloves June 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I’m glad the DA released the names, and the ‘john’s’ families now have knowledge on their side.

  • Reply Amy @ Paint Wine Repeat June 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Great post, so true. My friend is extremely passionate about ending human trafficking. She has arranged 3 screenings of this documentary in my area (Ottawa, Canada). Here is the link to the website with info on how to watch the movie. Great way to make people understand what is happening. One of the best quotes from the movie is, “now you can never say that you didn’t know”.

    • Reply Roo June 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm

      Thanks for the link, Amy! I’ll check it out.

  • Reply Bean Bytes 41 June 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

    […] attention to an important topic: Let’s blame everyone but the johns via Neon […]

  • Reply Claire June 10, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I just read your link to the Vanity Fair article and my heart is so heavy. I feel like I am in mourning for the world that my little girl is going to grow up in.

  • Reply Whitney June 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    AMEN! I live in Maine and we have been enduring the “Zumba Prositution Scandal” (and if you missed it- http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/31/zumba-fitness-instructor-kennebunk-maine-be-senten – although I doubt anyone did as it went international) A lot of the men’s names have been published, but some men are trying to buy their names off the list. Of course, the man who pretty much set this all up for her got off with like a month in jail and a $3,000 fine, because they said he didn’t make “any money” off of the operation and because he was a respected “businessman.” Psh, of course a good business man will find a way to launder the money.

    FINALLY we see the men getting what they deserve for paying for sex- the women are always the “bad person” behind the whole thing, but if there weren’t customers there wouldn’t be prostitutes. In our society, and in too many others, women have lost respect for themselves and devalue themselves- it makes me so sad for the future. I see so many young girls looking like little street walkers because they think it’s what men want… it’s time for the world to wake up and protect women. We shouldn’t be the only ones wearing a scarlet letter, the men share 50% of the blame. And how about while going after prostitutes and their johns, we go after the nasty pimps who are making a profit too? I feel bad for the wives of these men for 1. Being humiliated and 2. For being now at risk for disease. It’s time we clean up our act for a safer future. So glad NY made the men pay for the crime!

  • Reply Jennifer June 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    This is a great post Roo, and I agree with you 100%. Last week in Texas a man who shot (she died) an escort because she would not have sex with him was acquitted. Seriously? She said no so that made it okay for him to end her life? I’m sure there is more too it, but then I have to wonder… is there really? Or are women and girls really that devalued by society?

  • Reply the only male to post July 12, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Its because she was a thieving whore…it is legal in Texas to use deadly force to recover stolen property in the night….yea crazy law but maybe she should have thought of that before she took his money and then refused sex. Obviously this hooker really needed that 100-200 bucks for it to be worth her life….probably just another dirty crack/method head.

    • Reply Roo July 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Please read articles before you comment on them. THIS post has NOTHING to do with the case to which you’re referring.

  • Reply the only male to post July 12, 2013 at 8:58 am

    Its because she was a thieving whore…it is legal in Texas to use deadly force to recover stolen property in the night….yea crazy law but maybe she should have thought of that before she took his money and then refused sex. Obviously this hooker really needed that 100-200 bucks for it to be worth her life….probably just another dirty crack/meth head.

    • Reply Roo July 12, 2013 at 8:59 am

      Since you posted twice, I’ll respond twice.

      Please read articles before you comment on them. THIS post has NOTHING to do with the case to which you’re referring.

  • Reply adam September 15, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Ive never picked up a prostitute and Im against sex trafficking but if a person is willing to perform an act for cash I dont see anything wrong with it as long as she is of age. I know of a couple females that do it willingly that have a full-time job that you wouldn’t know

  • Reply John November 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I would rather be single &use the services of a working girl than lose 1/2 of everything thing I have to a women . Some of us “Johns” are the same guys women deem unattractive….are we going to hook up with some fat broad??? Nope. Buy some time w/ a nice looking woman and call it a day. I wish they put as much effort finding real criminals such as. Car thieves, murderers, and gangsters.

  • Reply Privileged Sort-Of White Woman - SEMIPROPER June 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    […] do both. Yes, human trafficking happens in the US (I’ve written about it here), but it is simply not at the scale as it is in some parts of SE Asia – where the sex trade […]

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