In the last two months, three powerful men—billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, R&B singer/songwriter R. Kelly, and megachurch founder Naasón Joaquín García—have been arrested and charged with various crimes surrounding the sexual abuse, creation or possession of child pornography, and trafficking of minors.
In April of 2018, the federal government seized and shut down Backpage. In a blog earlier this year, we wrote about the unintended consequences of the shutdown—and among them was a resurgence in sex trade activity on the streets.
That’s why we recently relaunched our Street Outreach Team.
Today in Seattle, local media outlets are collaborating on a project called Day of Homelessness, focusing on the homelessness crisis in our city. It has been a little over a two and a half years since a state of emergency on homelessness was declared in Seattle and King County. As of January, it is estimated that there were over 12,100 people experiencing homelessness in King County—and just over 2,200 shelter beds.
Before its shutdown, Backpage was estimated to account for 80% of the sex trade in the US. In the anti-trafficking movement, there was cause for celebration that Backpage and other website providers could be held accountable for their role in facilitating sex trafficking. At the same time here at REST, however, we have seen an influx of individuals seeking help because of unintended consequences from the shutdown of these sites.
Every year, as we draw near to the Super Bowl, news cycles and our social media feeds see an increase in articles about sex trafficking. If you look at Google Trends for the terms “sex trafficking” and “human trafficking”, you’ll see searches for those terms take a sharp uptick in late January and February.
A couple of weeks ago, we posted a story involving six local men who were arrested during an undercover operation that involved child rape & domestic minor sex trafficking. These men ranged in age, race and profession.
In 2010, a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near the capital city of Port Au Prince, Haiti. More than 1.5 million people were displaced, and 300,000 structures were severely damaged or destroyed. Some cities near the epicenter reported 90% of their buildings lost. The amount of devastation was incomprehensible.
We mean well. We don’t intend to be insensitive. But sometimes our words are still hurtful to those who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation. With the help of some people who’ve felt the effect of unintentionally damaging words first-hand, we’ve created this list so we can better communicate love to these individuals.
Tomorrow, the movie adaptation of “global phenomenon” Fifty Shades of Grey will be released in theaters, after selling more than 100 million books worldwide. Fifty Shades of Grey, billed as “romantic erotica,” tells the fictitious story of a Seattle billionaire who enlists a woman to be an object of his degrading and violent sexual acts.
Several years ago, I was sitting on my couch, enjoying the silence that only a parent of small children can appreciate. The digital clock on our DVD player told me I was up too late, but the stillness of that hour was a refuge to my ears and soul. The silence was immediately interrupted by the sound of our sliding glass door being unlatched.
In 2011, sex buyers tipped their hands and disclosed what they believed would dissuade them from using women involved in prostitution. In the comprehensive study, Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex Melissa Farley, PHD, Founding Director of Prostitution Research and Education, and Peter Qualliotine, co-founder of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors (OPS), interviewed over 100 sex buyers in hopes of discovering, among other things, any deterrents that would be effective.
I sat with a man named Jeffrey who had been arrested on charges of soliciting prostitution. He is one of the tens of thousands of Seattle’s johns. In our first session together, Jeffrey remarked, “Friday afternoons are always the most difficult for me to control myself. I am not sure why, but it usually turns out to be the day I end up with a prostitute or an escort. ”
On a monthly basis, REST receives inquiries from people all over the country who are considering starting an anti-trafficking organization and are looking for a “how-to.” We are so grateful to be receiving these requests and know first-hand how important it is to learn from others who have gone before you.
Last week I opened my internet browser in hopes to catch up with the chatter I’d been hearing about North Korea. Instead of reading about the potential threat of a terrorist attack from a foreign nation, my eyes met an article about domestic terrorism. Predators – traffickers – who have waged war against our children.