by Rex Hamaker, Director of Marketing and Communications
Events like Amnesty International’s decision to support decriminalizing sex work and the cancellation of the controversial show 8minutes have brought the longstanding, bitter debate over the relationship between sex work and sex trafficking from policy and academia circles and into popular discourse.
The Human Trafficking Center, in its Taxonomy Project, recognizes the difference between sex work and sex trafficking, and both Director Claude d’Estrée and Graduate Director Jillian Janflone spoke extensively with reporter Mike Ludwig to provide context for his article “Inside the Business of ‘Rescuing’ Sex Workers.” The article presents a more complicated picture of people who sex sexual services than organizations dedicated to “rescuing” them usually put forward.
These [sex worker arrest] numbers astonish Claude d’Estrée and Jillian “JJ” Janflone, the director and graduate director of the Human Trafficking Center at the University of Denver, respectively. They called the numbers of arrests an indicator of “exceptionally aggressive policing.” What these numbers cannot tell us is whether anyone’s life was improved by this aggressive police intervention. “A prostitute is not a prostitute is not a prostitute,” Janflone says. “Every human being is different, so they experience sex work differently.”
Forcing those who sell sex to attend rehabilitation meetings and Bible study sessions for their own good, as some rescue groups do, only “re-victimizes” them, especially if they were trafficked in the past. Throwing them in jail when they refuse to comply is even worse. “We’ve just decided that they must be inherently immoral or that they are children [because they sold sex],” d’Estrée says. “We treat them as some combination of immoral or infantile human beings, so they don’t deserve dignity.”
Image via javacolleen.
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