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(WNN) Los Angeles, California, UNITED STATES, AMERICAS: Preventing trafficking and sexual exploitation is more than education; it is building deep friendships with people of all ages within our community and meeting their needs. Part of prevention is education, but the larger part is putting the education into action.
Restoring the community includes addressing the systemic issues, meeting basic needs and creating economic sustainability. Preventing trafficking and meeting the individuals core needs on a relational level actually prevents domestic violence, bullying, self harm, addiction, homelessness, poverty, consumption of sexual services and trafficking. When the core needs are met, individuals are not left searching for purpose, closeness and hope, thus preventing harmful generational cycles.
“Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass; there was nothing on it except a tiny golden key, and Alice’s first thought was that it might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!” ~ Alice in Wonderland By Lewis Carroll
Down the rabbit hole of violence and trafficking, we discover a glass three-legged table that holds the golden key to freedom. The table is hand crafted within our communities, with each leg representing a critical component necessary for preventing abuse and assisting in recovery. The beauty of holistic solutions is the restoration of the entire community. When addressing sex trafficking on a holistic and systemic level, many other human rights abuses will also be restored. The legs of the table are prevention, aftercare, and legislation; each leg being just as important as the others.
Aftercare is the road to preventing unhealthy generational cycles, it is virtually impossible to separate prevention from aftercare. As relationships are formed around honesty and openness, it is soon revealed that all people have been effected by the sex industry. Aftercare is not exclusively for individuals who have been trafficked but also includes people who buy sexual services, view pornography, their partners, spouses and children, and individuals who profit from the sex industry. Thus effecting the entire population within America.
Much like prevention, aftercare is meeting the more complex needs of the individuals within our communities. Unfortunately, aftercare is necessary because we failed to meet the needs of our neighbors.
We already have laws in place that protect society against violence, murder and rape. Unfortunately these laws are inaccessible to people who are being trafficked and sex workers because their non-violent actions are considered criminal in nature. Accessing the protection of law enforcement against violent criminals normally requires their own arrest in the process of reporting violent crimes. The laws surrounding the buying and selling of sexual services, effect all the individuals within the sex industry, no matter how they arrived within the sex trade. It is impossible to create laws that only effect trafficked individuals and not sex workers.
Prohibition of prostitution has turned many law-abiding citizens into criminals. When buyers encounter an individual whom they believe may be trafficked, they are unable to help the child or trafficked adult because they would also be charged with a crime. Prohibition of alcohol had the same effects, transforming law-abiding citizens who wanted to consume alcohol into criminals who are then the burden of the state. Harm reduction through education, community, relationships and support has proven to be effective tools for rehabilitation of alcoholism and the same principles can be applied to the sex industry.
Breaking Out of Our Current Model
Under our current model of full criminalization of prostitution, shame is the primary tool used for behavior modification. Shame further isolates the individual from relationships, many times causing the person to dive deeper into their addiction or harmful behaviors thus adding to the complexity of the problem rather than providing solutions.
Prevention, aftercare and legislation together create the delicate three-legged table, without each leg we will never find the golden key. A glass table with only one or two legs, tips over and breaks, leaving the golden key in the rubble of shattered glass. We must collectively build each leg, creating partnerships among organizations and individuals within our communities to effectively address our individual core needs and overcome the prevalent abuse within society.
Jes Richardson is a survivor of sex trafficking and a former sex worker, as well as an educator, speaker, and blogger. She resides in Los Angeles, California with her husband and six children. To know more about her educational campaigns link HERE.
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