Special Edition: Sex Trafficking in America


>>>TONIGHT ON METRO FOCUS, SPECIAL EDITION: SEX TRAFFICKING IN AMERICA. EVERY DAY CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES ARE BEING BOUGHT AND SOLD FOR SEX, AND BUSINESS IS BOOMING. PREDATORS FIND THEIR PREY IN OUR COMMUNITIES AND OUR LIVES. GLOBALLY THERE ARE MORE THAN 4 MILLION VICTIMS. IN A MOMENT, THE YOUNG WOMEN, MEN, AND CHILDREN CAUGHT IN THE SEX TRADE. A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT OF THOSE TRAPPED IN THE CYCLE OF ABUSE AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP STOP THIS TERRIBLE CRIME. “METROFOCUS SPECIAL EDITION: SEX TRAFFICKING IN AMERICA” STARTS RIGHT NOW.>>Announcer: THIS IS “METROFOCUS” WITH RAFAEL RAMMAN, JACK FORD. “METRO FOCUS” IS MADE POSSIBLE BY BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY –>>GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION OF “METROFOCUS,” I’M JACK FORD. HUMAN SEX TRAFFICKING. ACROSS THE GLOBE IT’S THE THIRD LARGEST ORGANIZED CRIME AFTER DRUG SMUGGLING AND ARMS TRADING. ACCORDING TO “BUSINESS INPSEUDOER, TLTS FOR 18 TO 20,000 PEOPLE TRAFFICKED INTO OUR COUNTRY EVERY YEAR. A MORE STARTLING FACT, ALTHOUGH MANY OF THESE SEX SLAVES ARRIVE FROM OVERSEAS, THE MAJORITY OF THEM ARE HERE IN THE U.S., U.S. CITIZENS, DAUGHTERS, SONS, NEIGHBORS, CHILDREN, SOME, OUR OWN. THE NUMBERS ARE SHOCKING. THE DETAILS ARE WORSE. A LOOK AT A NATIONAL PROBLEM WITH ADDED FOCUS ON NEW YORK. FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE AND FOUNDER OF SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL LINDA SMITH. JOINING US FROM WASHINGTON, ERNIE ALLEN, A GLOBAL EXPERT ON SEX TRAFFICKING. I APPRECIATE YOU COMING SPENDING TIME WITH US. WE HAVE A LOT TO TALK ABOUT HERE.>>INDEED.>>BUT LET ME START — BEFORE I GET INTO EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS BECAUSE I THINK THAT’S IMPORTANT, LET’S SET THE STAGE, A BIG PICTURE DISCUSSION OF JUST WHAT TYPE OF AN EXTRAORDINARY PROBLEM THIS IS. ERNIE, LET ME START WITH YOU, IF I CAN. I THREW OUT A COUPLE OF STATISTICS HERE, BUT GIVE US A SENSE OF THE ENORMITY OF THIS ISSUE THAT IS BEING DEALT WITH NOT JUST IN THE U.S. BUT WORLDWIDE.>>JACK, THIS IS A MASSIVE PROBLEM, ESTIMATED TO BE $150 BILLION INDUSTRY WORLDWIDE. AS YOU POINT OUT, OVERWHELMINGLY, THE VICTIMS ARE NOT SOMEBODY ELSE’S KIDS. THESE ARE OUR KIDS. THESE ARE KIDS IN CRISIS WHO ARE RUN AWAYS, THROW AWAYS, HOMELESS KIDS WHO ARE PREYED UPON. AND I THINK MOST IMPORTANTLY THEY’RE HIDDEN VICTIMS. THE UB APPPUBLIC DOES NOT SEE T PROBLEM. IT’S NOT A REPORTED PROBLEM. SO, WE REALLY HAVE NO TRUE SENSE OF THE EXTENT AND THE ENORMITY OF THE CHALLENGE.>>I SAW A NUMBER. I IMAGINE IT’S HARD TO BE PRECISE. I SAW A NUMBER THAT SAID SOME PERHAPS 4.5 MILLION PEOPLE ARE VICTIMS OF THIS WORLDWIDE. IS THAT A NUMBER THAT SOUNDS FAMILIAR TO YOU?>>I THINK IT IS. INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION ESTIMATES 25 MILLION HUMAN BEINGS ON THE PLANET WHO ARE VICTIMS OF MODERN SLAVERY. MUCH OF THAT IS FORCED LABOR AND RELATED CRIMES. BUT A LARGE SHARE OF IT ARE PEOPLE USED FOR PURPOSES OF SEX. AND WHAT’S PARTICULARLY SERIOUS ABOUT IT IS THAT THIS IS NOT LIKE THE TYPICAL COMMODITIES THAT ARE TRAFFICKED. DRUGS YOU CAN SELL ONCE. HUMAN BEINGS, YOU CAN SELL OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. SO, IT IS TRULY AN EXAMPLE OF MODERN SLAVERY.>>LINDA, WHEN YOU WERE A MEMBER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, YOU TOOK A TRIP THAT WAS APPARENTLY A BIT OF AN EPIPHANY FOR YOU IN TERMS OF THE PROBLEM AND THE EXTENT OF IT. TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT TRIP AND WHAT YOU CAME AWAY FROM IT WITH.>>WELL, I WAS INVOLVED IN A LOT OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAUCUSES, THE ISSUES OF HUMAN RIGHTS, VICTIM RIGHTS. AND SO BECAUSE OF THAT I GOT A CALL ONE DAY. AND THIS MAN TALKED 45 MINUTES. I LITERALLY COULD NOT STOP HIM, BUT I WAS TOO SHOCKED TO BREAK IN. HE WAS TALKING ABOUT CHILDREN IN SLAVERY IN INDIA. WELL, IT BOTHERED ME. I COULDN’T SLEEP. SO, I WENT TO INDIA AND I FOUND THERE WERE CHILDREN IN — AND I JUST — FIRST OF ALL, I GOT SICK. AND THEN I SAID, YOU KNOW, I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT. NOT LONG AFTER THAT, I GOT A LOOK INTO THE UNITED STATES AND WAS ASKED BY THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO DO INVESTIGATIONS. I ADDED AMERICA. HOW CREDIBLE COULD WE BE CRITICIZING THESE OTHER COUNTRIES LIKE INDIA FOR SELLING THEIR OWN CHILDREN TO THEIR OWN MEN BECAUSE IT WAS DOMESTIC TRAFFICKING. I DID AND I FOUND MY CRITICISM OF INDIA WAS PARALLELED HERE. WHEN WE PRESENTED TO CONGRESS THE NUMBERS IN 2007 AND WE STARTED SAYING WE KNOW THIS, WE KNOW THAT MOST OF THE PEOPLE WE FOUND WERE TRAFFICKED AS MINORS, THEY WERE SOLD FOR COMMERCIAL SEX, AND OFTEN PORNOGRAPHY.>>MELANIE, YOU PREVIOUSLY ESCAPED FROM THIS WORLD AND NOW AN ACTIVIST. FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE, HOW DID YOU GET DRAWN INTO THAT WORLD?>>THIS WORLD HAS A WAY OF PREYING ON THE WORLD’S MOST VULNERABLE. I COME FROM A BACKGROUND OF NOTHING BUT MARGINALIZED POVERTY AND IMPOVERISHED. I COME FROM A BROKEN HOME. AND UNFORTUNATELY, I WAS JUST ONE OF THE TARGETS IN THIS DEMOGRAPHIC, A YOUNG, PRE-TEENAGE GIRL IN THE STREETS OF A VERY POOR NEIGHBORHOOD IN QUEENS. AND, YOU KNOW, ME JUST BEING OUTSIDE WITH FRIENDS TURNED INTO SOMEBODY FINDING ME ON THE STREET BEFORE I GOT HOME AND LOCKING ME IN A CLOSET AND PUTTING ME INTO THIS WORLD. SO, YOU KNOW, THIS IS JUST MY PERSONAL STORY IN QUEENS, BUT THIS HAPPENS ALL OVER NEW YORK CITY, ALL OVER-NEW YORK STATE, AND LIKE YOU SAID ALL OVER THE WORLD.>>HOW DID YOU ESCAPE?>>I GOT ARRESTED ON MY WAY OUT. SO, THERE WAS A WARRANT OUT FOR MY ARREST AND THE COPS FOUND WHERE I WAS. I’VE HEARD IT WAS THROUGH AN ANONYMOUS TIP. I WASN’T THERE TO VERIFY THAT. BUT THE COPS ENDED UP PRYING THE LOCKED CLOSET DOOR OPEN WITH THESE HEDGE CUTTERS AND ARRESTED ME AND I WENT INTO THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM AFTER.>>THAT’S A REAL POINT. SHE WAS ARRESTED. A LOT OF THIS NATION IS STILL NOT UNDERSTANDING THAT THAT LITTLE GIRL WASN’T A PROSTITUTE AND IN 19 STATES THEY CAN STILL BE ARRESTED FOR THE CRIME OF PROSTITUTION. NEW YORK IS ONE OF THOSE STATES.>>VICTIMIZED ONCE AND VICTIMIZED AGAIN BY THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.>>YEAH.>>ERNIE, LET ME BRING YOU INTO THE CONVERSATION. I HAVE A SUSPICION THAT THE LAST MAJORITY OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN SEX WORKERS, PEOPLE WHO HAVE CHOSEN THIS — AND WE’VE SEEN MOVEMENTS WHERE SEX WORKERS TRY TO ORGANIZE TO SAY THIS IS WHAT OUR CHOSEN PROFESSION IS — AND VICTIMS SUCH AS MELLY. WHY IS IT THAT WE DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT THERE’S NOT A CLEAR DELINEATION BETWEEN THOSE GROUPS?>>I THINK THERE ARE A NUMBER OF REASONS. ONE OF THE REASONS IS THAT WE ASSUME — MOST OF THE PURCHASERS OF THIS CONTENT APPEAR TO BE NON-CRIMINAL, PRETTY NORMAL PEOPLE, DOCTORS, LAWYERS, BUSINESS EXECUTIVES. SO, WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT TO CRIMINALIZE THEM. WHEN THE CRIMINAL FOCUS HAS TENDED TO BE ON THE PUMP, THE ORGANIZER, THE PERSON WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT. BUT THERE WAS JUST AN ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORK PRESS ABOUT AN 8-YEAR-OLD BEING TRAFFICKED FOR SEX, A 12 OR 13-YEAR-OLD. THEY DON’T CHOOSE — THEY’RE NOT VOLUNTARY SEX WORKERS. AND UNDER U.S. LAW, AS YOU KNOW, YOU CAN’T CHOOSE — YOU CAN’T CONSENT TO SEX IF YOU’RE 12 OR 13 YEARS OF AGE. SO, LINDA’S POINT IS A REALLY GOOD ONE. THESE ARE RAPE VICTIMS. THESE ARE VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. AND UNTIL WE HELP THE PUBLIC UNDERSTAND THAT, THAT THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE WITH THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR AND UNTIL WE BEGIN TO ADDRESS THE DEMAND, THE REALITY IS THE REASON THIS PROBLEM EXISTS IS BECAUSE IT’S COMMERCIALLY PROFITABLE. AND IT’S PROFITABLE BECAUSE AVERAGE PEOPLE SPEND MONEY TO HAVE SEX WITH CHILDREN. AND WE’VE GOT TO BEGIN TO PUT THE FOCUS OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM NOT JUST ON THE PIMP AND CERTAINLY NOT ON THEIC HAVE TIM BUT ALSO ON THE CONSUMER, THE PURCHASER OF THE CONTENT.>>IF I MAY, I WANT TO GO BACK TO YOUR QUESTION BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE ESPECIALLY AT THIS CURRENT TOMB IN OUR CULTURE, THAT’S SUCH AN IMPORTANT QUESTION BECAUSE YOU SEE SO MANY PRO-SEX WORK LOBBYISTS SAYING THIS IS OUR CHOICE AND THIS IS CONCERNING AGENCY. AND YOU HAVE PEOPLE LIKE ME WHO WERE VICTIMIZED. AND I THINK ONE OF THE THINGS THAT AMERICA DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ARE THE SYSTEMIC OPPRESSIONS THAT FUEL PROSTITUTION. AND MANY OF THE PRO-SEX WORK LOBBYISTS THAT I’VE COME ACROSS WHO ARE CLAIMING THIS IS CHOICE AND CLAIMING THIS IS AGENCY DON’T HAVE A VAST UNDERSTANDING OF PATRIARCHY, MISOGYNY, AND CAPITALISM. I TELL EVERYBODY ALL THE TIME AND I’M NOT ASHAMED TO SAY IT, THERE WAS A TIME I WAS IN PROSTITUTION WHERE I THOUGHT I WAS EMPOWERED. IT’S A DIFFERENCE MECHANISM. IT’S SOMETHING WE HAD TO DO AND TRAIN OUR MINDS TO THINK IN ORDER TO GET THROUGH THE VIOLENT SEXUAL ACTS.>>TO MAKE YOURSELF THINK IT WAS YOUR CHOICE.>>EXACTLY. OTHERWISE YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO THINK OR BREATHE OR GET THROUGH ONE TRICK OR ONE JOHN OR ONE DATE WITHOUT CRYING OR HAVING SUICIDAL IDEATION, OR GETTING ABUSE OR BEATEN, WHATEVER MAY HAVE YOU. I WILL NEVER DENY SOMEBODY’S CLAIM THAT THERE WAS THEIR CLAIM. BUT AS WE KNOW THROUGH RESEARCH, AS WE KNOW THROUGH STATISTICS, AS I THROUGH PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, THE PERCENTAGE OF INDIVIDUALS WHO CLAIM CONSENT IN AGENCY AND AUTONOMY AND CLAIM THIS IS VOLUNTARY THAT NEVER HAD A PRIOR SEXUAL ABUSE HISTORY OF ANY KIND IS LESS THAN 2% OF THE INDIVIDUALS OF THOSE IN PROSTITUTION.>>LET ME GO BACK TO SOMETHING YOU TOUCHED ON WHEN I ASKED YOU HOW YOU GOT DRAWN IN. MANY PEOPLE, YOU ASK HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN. THEY SAY YOU BECOME A SEXUAL SLAVE BY BEING SNATCHED OFF THE STREET AND LOCKED IN A CLOSET. WE KNOW THERE ARE FAR MORE SUBTLE AND MORE INSIDIOUS MEANS OF RECRUITING PEOPLE, IF YOU WILL. I DON’T KNOW IF THAT’S THE RIGHT TERM, BUT I’LL USE THAT TERM, OF GETTING THEM INTO THIS WORLD. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT — YOU FI FIRST. TALK ABOUT THE METHODS THAT ARE UTILIZED TO GET PEOPLE SUCH AS MELANIE AND BRING THEM INTO THIS WORLD.>>I THINK I’LL GO BROADER AND COME BACK TO AMERICA BECAUSE VERY QUICKLY AFTER I STARTED INVESTIGATING THE WORLD I HAD A STATE DEPARTMENT AGREEMENT TO GO IN WITH INVESTIGATORS. AND WHEN WE GO IN LOOK AT THE PRODUCT — ISN’T THAT A TERRIBLE WORD? THEY WERE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS BROUGHT TO THE NETHERLANDS, TO JAPAN, TO JAMAICA, AND TO AMERICA. SO, I WAS LOOKING OUT THERE THINKING IT WAS ABOUT OUT THERE IN. AND WHAT I FOUND WHEN I LOOKED IN AMERICA WAS THERE WERE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS. AND THE VULNERABILITY WAS THEIR AGE. I FOUND KIDS THAT WERE FROM PRE-ORDINARY HOMES THAT GOT INVOLVED WITH SOMEONE ONLINE AND HAD FALLEN IN LOVE WITH THEM OR BECOME A FRIEND AND THEY WERE 13 AND THAT PERSON THAT WAS SAYING THEY WERE 16 WAS REALLY A PIMP. SO, THEY GET OUT THERE WHERE THEY’RE VULNERABLE. THAT ONE CASE I JUST TALKED ABOUT, SHE’S OUT GETTING RAPED AND HE SAYS YOU CHOSE TO COME OUT HERE. YOU MADE THAT CHOICE. SO, GIVING THEM THAT FACT, THEY ALWAYS GO IT’S MY FAULT. THINK OF THAT. THOSE GIRLS — AND I SPOKE ON IT TEN YEARS AGO WHEN HE WAS FIRST ARRESTED. THE GIRLS THAT WERE BROUGHT IN WERE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS THAT WERE TOLD IT WOULD BE SOMETHING BETTER. THEY WERE FEMALES THAT WENT OUT TO RECRUIT THESE GIRLS TO BRING THEM IN TO BE USED BY VERY WEALTHY MEN. BUT THE REALITY OF THOSE GIRLS WAS THEY WERE FROM MARGINALIZED PLACES, SOCIETIES, POVERTY. THEY WERE TOLD THEY WERE WONDERFUL, THEY WERE GOING TO GET GREAT THINGS. THEY WERE NOT DRUG OFF. THEY THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AN ADVENTURE. BUT THEY WERE WALKING IN TO EXCITEMENT AND BELONGING.>>SO, THESE ARE — I’LL ASK YOU TO JUMP IN ALSO. WE’RE NOT TALKING ABOUT — IN SOME INSTANTS WE ARE. AS I MENTIONED THE BRUTAL GRABBING OFF THE STREET. BUT IN MANY OF THESE SITUATIONS, FAR MORE NUANCED, FAR MORE SOPHISTICATED MEANS OF REACHING OUT AND MAKING SOMEBODY FEEL LIKE THERE’S VALUE TO THEM. TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE INTERNET IN THIS ENTIRE RECRUITMENT AND GROOMING PROCESS.>>JACK, THIS PROBLEM HAS MIGRATED FROM THE STREETS TO THE INTERNET. AND THE REALITY IS THOSE WHO SHOP FOR A CHILD FOR SEX CAN DO SO WITH LITTLE RISK AND VIRTUAL ANONYMITY ONLINE. THEY DON’T HAVE TO DRIVE TO A STREET IN THE CENTER OF TOWN WHERE THEY’RE GOING TO BE SEEN AND THEIR LICENSE PLATE MIGHT BE WRITTEN DOWN AND THEY’RE AT FAR GREATER RISK. SO, THEY CAN SHOP ONLINE. THEY CAN ACCESS WHO THEY WANT TO ACCESS IN THEIR HOTEL ROOM OR THEIR HOME. IT’S REALLY CHANGED THE DYNAMIC OF THIS WHOLE PROBLEM AND MADE IT A FAR LARGER AND MORE COMPLEX PROBLEM TO SOLVE.>>AND I WOULD IMAGINE AS THE REACH AND THE GRASP OF THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA CONTINUES TO EXPAND THAT IT’S GOING TO MAKE THIS PROBLEM CONTINUE TO EXPAND EVEN MORE SO THAN IT IS NOW.>>NO QUESTION ABOUT IT. IT IS DRAMATICALLY LARGER THAN IT WAS EVEN 20, 30 YEARS AGO. AND THAT IS SIMPLY BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY. AND TO LINDA’S POINT, THE REALITY IS THERE ARE LOTS OF KIDS ON THE STREETS OF AMERICAN CITIES WHO ARE STRUGGLING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SURVIVE. SO, THEY’RE EASY FODDER. THEY’RE EASY TARGETS FOR THOSE WHO LURE THEM WITH KINDNESS, WITH PROMISES OF SUSTENANCE, OF A PLACE TO STAY, OF EVEN LOVE. SO, THE INTERNET HAS BECOME A VEHICLE FOR THAT. IT’S A WAY THAT THESE PEOPLE CAN TARGET KIDS IN A WAY THAT LOWERS THEIR GUARD, AND THESE KIDS ONLY FIND OUT THEY’RE IN TROUBLE WHEN IT’S TOO LATE.>>DOES ALL THAT SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU?>>ABSOLUTELY.>>IN YOUR LIFE, THE THINGS WE’VE TALKED ABOUT HERE?>>YEAH.>>TO MAKE YOU FEEL LOVE, MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE THERE’S VALUE TO YOUR LIFE, AND THAT’S PART OF THE MAGNET THAT DREW YOU INTO IT?>>I HAD A VERY DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE, BUT WHAT LINDA WAS SAYING WAS VERY ACCURATE TO OTHER PEOPLE I KNOW. THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PIMPS, YOU HAVE TO RICO OR THE SUAVE PIMP THAT STARTS AS LOVE OR A BOYFRIEND IN HIGH SCHOOL. BUT THE BOY IN HIGH SCHOOL IS A RECRUITER FOR AN OLDER PIMP. LATER IN THE RELATIONSHIP HE’LL SNAP AND SAY IF YOU LOVE ME, YOU HAVE TO DO X, Y, AND Z. WE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTIONS TO THE VULNERABILITIES OF THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO THIS ISSUE, RIGHT? IN MANY CASES THOSE THAT ARE WOOED BY LOVE ARE COMING FROM SOME TYPE OF BROKEN HOME WHERE THEY’RE NOT RECEIVING THAT LOVE. SO, THERE’S A VOID THERE. 95% OF THOSE IN PROSTITUTION ARE BLACK AND BROWN GIRLS, TRANSGENDER AND NON-CONFIRMING INDIVIDUALS, THOSE WHO ENDURED THE FOSTER CARE SYSTEM, AND THOSE COMING FROM POVERTY. THAT’S INTERNATIONAL WIDE. I THINK THAT PIMPS HAVE A WAY OF — I ALWAYS LIKE TO SAY SNIFFING OUT WHAT VULNERABILITY YOU SUFFER FROM. IN MY CASE I’M COMING FROM A BROKEN HOME WITH MANY SIBLINGS LIVING BELOW THE POVERTY LINE, BEING A BLACK GIRL MYSELF, LIVING IN THE SOUTH SIDE OF JAMAICA QUEENS WHICH IS NOT THE NICEST NEIGHBORHOOD IF YOU HAVEN’T EVER BEEN. AND ME HAVING A LOT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN MY HOUSE HOLD. SO, I COME FROM THAT VOID OF NOT RECEIVING A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF LOVE OR ATTENTION.>>YOU CHECKED A LOT OF THE BOXES.>>A LOT OF THE BOXES.>>AS YOU SAID, THESE ARE VERY SOPHISTICATED PEOPLE AND METHODS BEING USED.>>HE COULD HAVE WATCHED HER FOR A LONG TIME BEFORE HE GOT HER TO FIGURE OUT IF ANYBODY WOULD LOOK. I REMEMBER WHEN ERNIE AND I FIST GOT TOGETHER — WE HAD KNOWN EACH OTHER BEFORE. I SAID I JUST — THIS IS HORRIBLE. AND I KNOW — I KNOW THAT WE’RE DEALING WITH THE SAME KIDS, MISSING KIDS. IT’S ACTUALLY WORKING ON A BOOK WITH ME OR EDITING THE BOOK AND IT WAS ACTUALLY WRITTEN — IT’S CALLED “RENTING LACI” BUT ON A SERIES OF AMERICAN KIDS THAT WERE MOSTLY STARTED IN THEIR MIDDLE SCHOOL AGE THAT I KNEW OF AND KNEW. AND IT WAS LIKE I DON’T KNOW HOW TO MAKE THIS STRONG BECAUSE PEOPLE AREN’T GOING TO WANT TO READ IT. IT WAS TO THE EXTENT OF LINDA, DON’T WEAKEN THAT BOOK BECAUSE I’VE BEEN SAYING I KNOW WHAT THE KIDS –>>WE NEED THE POWER FROM THIS BOOK. THAT GETS ME — WE’VE GOT A FEW MINUTES LEFT. I WANT TO TALK ABOUT. WE TALKED ABOUT THE PROBLEM. NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT THIS PROBLEM AND WHAT WE’VE ALL BEEN DOING AND WHAT WE NEED TO DO. LET ME COME BACK TO YOU. AS I MENTIONED YOU’VE BECOME AN ACTIVIST. YOU’VE GOTTEN INVOLVED IN PUSHING LEGISLATION. SOME OF IT HAD IMMEDIATE INSIGHT. THERE WAS A SITE, A BACK PAGE THAT WAS A DESTINATION FOR PEOPLE WHO WERE LOOKING. TELL ME WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN DOING AND WHAT YOU’VE FOUND HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL UP TO THIS POINT.>>SO, THE MOST RECENT LAW THAT I HELPED PASS WAS FIGHT ONLINE SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT AND STOP ENABLING SEX TRAFFICKERS ACT. AND WHAT THAT DID WAS AMEND A SMALL PIECE OF COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT. A LOT OF JARGON.>>YOU LEARNED A LOT MORE ABOUT LEGISLATION THAN YOU EVER WANTED TO.>>DEFINITELY A FACT. BASICALLY WHAT THAT DID WAS JUST AMEND THIS CLAUSE THAT SHIELDED THIRD-PARTY WEBSITES FROM FACILITATING THIRD PARTY CONTENT.>>THEY ESSENTIALLY HAD IMMUNITY.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>NOT A WIDE ROAD. IT’S JUST A NARROW PATH.>>OH, OF COURSE. BUT BACK PAGE IS ACTUALLY VERY PERSONAL TO ME BECAUSE I WAS TRAFFICKED ON BACK PAGE FOR OVER A YEAR. AND MUCH OF MY 12-YEAR-OLD BODY WAS PLASTERED ALL OVER THAT WEBSITE. SO, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I DO, LIKE YOU SAID, A LOT OF THE LAWS THAT I PASSED HAD IMMEDIATE IMPACT AND FOSTER WAS ONE OF THOSE LAWS. WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF BACKLASH FROM THE PEOPLE WE WERE TALKING ABOUT EARLIER, THE PRO-SEX WORK LOBBYIST WHO CLAIM IT’S INSTRUMENTAL. SO, MY ROLE IN SOCIETY IS TO EDUCATE INDIVIDUALS ON HOW FOSTER IS NOT TARGETED TO INDIVIDUALS BUT TO THE INDIVIDUALS WHO FACILITATE THE CRIME, TO GO TO D.C. AND PASS LAWS OR STRENGTHEN LAWS WE HAVE AGAINST PIMPS, TRAFFICKERS, AND SEX BUYERS.>>DO YOU FIND WHEN YOU GO TO ALBANY OR WASHINGTON, ARE LEGISLATURES BOTH TRULY LISTENING TO YOU, FIRST QUESTION? AND DO YOU GET A SENSE THAT THEY HAVE BECOME COMMITTED TO DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THIS?>>I WOULD SAY I HAVE A GOOD 60/40, MAYBE 70/30. MOST OF THE ASSEMBLY MEMBERS AND SENATOR THAT IS I MEET WITH, THEY HEAR ME AND THEY SEEM REALLY ACTIVELY ENGAGED. A LOT OF THEM ARE HONEST WHEN THEY DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE ISSUE. THEY SAY THIS IS NOT SOMETHING MY OFFICE WORKS ON. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I’M HEARING ABOUT THIS. EDUCATE ME. AND I APPRECIATE THAT.>>THERE ARE A FEW THAT I MEET WITH HAVE A COMPLETELY VERY OPPOSITE OPINION ON THIS TOPIC AS I DO AND SAY, YOU KNOW, WELL, WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO CHOOSE IT AND WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO WANT TO DO THIS OR PRETTY WOMAN OR ET CETERA, ET CETERA. AND THOSE ARE THE INDIVIDUALS THAT I TEND TO HAVE A LOT MORE OF A FRUSTRATING CONVERSATION WITH. AND SOMETIMES WE JUST –>>DOES THAT REFLECT THE ATTITUDES OF A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE, RIGHT?>>ABSOLUTELY.>>WHAT ABOUT “PRETTY WOMAN,” ISN’T THAT JUST A FAIRY TALE WAITING FOR A HAPPY ENDING. OR DON’T YOU WANT TO SAY I DON’T WANT TO BE PART OF THIS, I’M GOING TO WALK AWAY FROM IT. I THINK THAT’S WHAT A T LO OF PEOPLE THINK OUT THERE.>>IT IS. THAT’S WHY MY JOB IS SO HARD AND THAT’S WHY I’LL PROBABLY NEVER BE OUT OF A JOB BECAUSE I HAVE TO CONTINUE TO DO THIS JOB. EVEN “PRETTY WOMAN” IS EXAMPLE OF THAT. THERE WAS A WOMAN SELLING HER BODY WITH THIS WEALTHY MAN WHO WORKS IN AN OFFICE. AGAIN, THIS GOES BACK TO THE GENDER ROLES AND THE POWER DYNAMIC WHICH HAS TRANSLATED AND FUELLED PROSTITUTION.>>TELL ME ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION IN SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL.>>SHARED HOPE INTERNATIONAL IS AN INSTITUTE. OUR GOAL IS TO CHANGE LAWS IN ALL 50 STATES AND THE FEDERAL LAWS. EIGHT YEARS AGO WE STARTED WORKING ON WHAT BECAME THE BILLS YOU WERE JUST TALKING ABOUT, 41 POINTS OF LAW. WE STARTED IN 2011 GRADING THE 41 POINTS OF LAW RIGHT INTO THE CODE OF EACH STATE. WE ONLY HAD LESS THAN 50, 47% OF THE LAW. AND STATES LIKE NEW YORK FAILED TOTALLY. AND AS THEY STARTED INCREASING, NOW MOST STATES ARE A B. NEW YORK IS A D. IT’S INTERESTING. WHEN THEY STARTED THEY WERE THE FIRST TO TALK ABOUT TREATING THE GIRLS AS VICTIMS INSTEAD OF CRIMINALS. THEY GOT STUCK. THE A.G.’S OFFICE IS DOING GREAT, THERE’S PEOPLE DOING GREAT. BUT THEY’RE HOLDING TO THE CULTURAL BIAS AND 19 STATES HAVEN’T CHANGED. THEY GOT A LAW, BUT IN THE LAW THEY HAVE A PROSTITUTION LAW AND THEY STILL CALL THE CHILD A PROSTITUTE. AND THEY HOLD THE RIGHT TO ARREST THEM. NOW, FEW PEOPLE WILL BE DIVERTED IN THAT, AND THERE ARE GOOD OPTIONS. BUT I SAY THAT BIAS IN THE LAW, I THINK WE HAVE A CULTURAL CHANGE THAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN THE STATE. AND WE HAVE TO CHANGE IT BY FIRST PASSING A LAW TO NOT CRIMINALIZE THE MINOR.>>ERNIE, I’LL GET LAST WORD FROM YOU, IF I CAN. BIGGER PICTURE AGAIN, ARE YOU AT ALL OPTIMISTIC? DO YOU GET A SENSE THAT PROGRESS IS BEING MADE BOTH IN TERMS OF AWARENESS OF THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM AND IN TERMS OF DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT?>>JACK, I THINK PROGRESS HAS BEEN ENORMOUS AND MUCH IS ATTRIBUTED TO PEOPLE LIKE LINDA SMITH AND SHERRY HOLT. BECAUSE OF HER AND HER COLLEAGUES THE FIRST VICTIMS PROTECTION ACT WAS PASSED ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO. FESTA HAS HAPPENED TO ADDRESS THAT INTERNET IMMUNITY. BUT THE KEY CHALLENGE REMAINS. WE NEED TO BUILD PUBLIC AWARENESS. THE PUBLIC DOESN’T UNDERSTAND THAT THIS CONTINUES TO HAPPEN. IT HAPPENS IN ALL KINDS OF CITIES, NOT JUST NEW YORK. WE LAUNCHED A TASK FORCE PROGRAM ACROSS THE COUNTRY CALLED INNOCENCE LOST ALMOST 20 YEARS AGO. THE FIRST BUST WAS HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA. BUT FINALLY I THINK THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE NEED TO DO IS ADDRESS THE DEMAND. AS LONG AS CUSTOMERS FEEL THAT THERE’S NO RISK FOR HIRING A CHILD FOR SEX, THIS BUSINESS IS GOING TO CONTINUE. AND IT’S GOING TO PROSPER. SO, WE NEED TO BEGIN TO HOLD THE CUSTOMER, THE PURCHASER, ACCOUNTABLE IF WE’RE EVER GOING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM.>>I THINK THIS HAS BEEN A VERY IMPORTANT CONVERSATION WE’VE HAD. IT’S BEEN A VERY ILLUMINATING CONVERSATION. MY HOPE IS THIS IS GOING TO HELP TO MOVE THIS CONVERSATION ALONG. I WANT TO THANK YOU ALL FOR JOINING US. AND COMPLIMENT YOU ON THE GOOD WORK YOU’RE DOING AND HOPE WE CAN TALK WITH YOU AGAIN DOWN THE ROAD AS WE MOVE FORWARD. THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR JOINING US. A REMINDER, IF YOU WOULD LIKE MORE INFORMATION ON THIS EPIDEMIC OR ANY OF THE ORGANIZATIONS WE MENTIONED, MAKE SURE YOU VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG. I’M JACK FORD. THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.>>>METRO FOCUS IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERLE TISCH, WACHENHEIM, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY —

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