Human sex trafficking is a problem all over the world.
I had the recent pleasure of sitting in on very informative seminar put on by two very unlikely partners – the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which seems like a natural for this one, and then the owners of several Seattle area strip clubs.
Strip Clubs? Yes. Why? Why do they care? 00Because, to Roger and Eric Forbes, Sex trafficking MATTERS.
The problem is, many Americans think that strip clubs somehow are the lynchpin to the sex trafficking industry – but the facts of the matter are, there just has not been a single raid, EVER, in the state of Washington, that has led to a discovery of human trafficking.
Now imagine this scenario: a woman is being forced from in or out of the United States, or even a boyfriend or husband forcing a woman to work in an adult industry – that is what sex trafficking is. The US is the second largest destination of trafficked victims. 18,000 women arrive each year and are forced into sex trade of some kind, such as ‘special’ massage parlors and prostitution.
Phil Burress, a huge anti-pornography advocate, has decided that he will use sex trafficking as a tool against the adult industry. This is simply ridiculous. He has petitioned numerous cities and municipalities to pass laws that make functioning almost impossible, such as entertainers accepting no tips, 10 foot distance from customers, and other such foolishness. He aims to make licensing such a degrading, humiliating experience for the entertainer that who would want to do it? Taxes are part of his grand scheme, asking for a $5 per customer tax in Illinois in order to pad the government’s pocketbook. The whole thing revolves around his image of painting any adult industry in such a bad light that anyone associated with it ‘should’ be ashamed.
In Western Washington, the Department of Homeland Security, together with local law enforcement, works hand in hand with Eric & Roger Forbes, and other folks in the industry, to make sure that sex trafficking is an absolute non-issue in any club. It never has been, and never will be.
The DHS provides materials for the staff and managers for dressing rooms and offices that detail the ways that they can be of use in reporting and noticing the signs of sex trafficking. They are as follows:
How to spot a Trafficking Indicator
• Victim comes to club with escort
• Does not possess ID
• Been coached
• She appears forced into dancing/controlled by someone else
• Vic money is collected
• Not allowed to socialize
• Threated with harm
• Threatened to arrest
• Deprived of food, water
COAST is an educational program for everyone in the adult entertainment industry, and they have trained over 5,000 workers in the signs of sex trafficking. The Department of Homeland Security helps provide the information so needed to help combat anyone that may be in this situation.
The problem here is not the strip clubs. They are but a diversion from the very serious issue of sex trafficking, and they are being used as a pawn in the war on the morality of Americans. Sex trafficking does not come from strip clubs. They are what they are- entertainment for adults.
You may ask, then, what IS the real problem surrounding this issue? Besides the trafficking itself, is a very serious one. This is an attack on our liberties. The first amendment covers the right of freedom of expression. For me, this means I get to write what I want. For dancers at a strip club, they also are allowed to express themselves. This is their form of free speech.
People like Buress are creating a dangerous, slippery slope. If we concede to allow him, and people like him, to make slight constitutional changes, what will be next?
This is also about our freedom in America to choose what we want. We can choose to eat Taco Bell 3 times a day, we can choose our jobs, educations, and cars. We are consumers, and we choose what we consume. It is NOT the right of the government or any one individual to decide what it is we are to consume. Just as I have the right to eat, shop, and worship where I choose, this is no different than any other entertainment venue. If I would like to go to an adult club, I would like to have that right, as I do now.
The rights of others should not be trampled by one’s perception of morality. The people of the world, like Buress, that choose to fight this moral war in America are simply wrong. Everyone has a different morality that they live by. What is good for you may not be good for me. My civil liberties are not at your whims.
It is outrageous as well for the attack on business’ primary need to function is being assaulted. There is no petitioning for scales in front of McDonald’s allowing only those of certain weight to enter and order food. That is just as ridiculous as a night club paying outrageous taxes and closing at 9 PM. It is just asinine.
Remember, supporting rights does not mean you have to agree with someone- just agree on their right to exist peacefully in their existence. I’m not going down a road where I have an Orwellian future of government regulation on everything from toast to movies – and you shouldn’t either.