Monday, June 25, 2012
On Thursday my wife and I attended the annual awards dinner of The Advocates for Human Rights. The law firm she works for is one of their major sponsors and reserves at least a couple of tables every year, so we've gone almost every year since she has worked there. One of the awards they presented was for a group of around a couple dozen people who have been working to strengthen the law against sex trafficking in Minnesota. Coincidentally, that same day news broke of the first major arrest under this law since the most recent version came into effect. It rightly targets the individuals (overwhelmingly men) who provide the demand for trafficked women and girls in the first place, and in this case the "john" happens to be a Mormon, a Boy Scout leader, and self-professed "family values" supporter (he has (had?) a web page detailing his stances). As if that wasn't enough to gloat about, the police report alleges that he even told the girls he had sex with that they looked too young to be involved in prostitution, but then went ahead and did the deed anyway. While the story was covered in Fox 9's predictably sensationalist style, it does get across the new paradigm that law enforcement is now operating under, which is to treat trafficking victims as victims, and not as offenders in their own right. This is, of course, infinitely preferable to the prior situation, where trafficked girls often ended up in jail facing criminal charges while those who partook of the services those girls were forced to provide rarely suffered any consequences. When it comes to the larger subject of prostitution, I have serious issues with the fact that the profession itself is still criminalized, and believe that fact is a major driver of trafficking in the first place, but in this particular situation the law is finally where it needs to be and I hope this guy gets the book thrown at him.