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Discussion of Harms to Women in Prostitution Absent from Coverage of Secret Service Scandal

Fernando Llano AP secret service agents in Cartagena.jpg

Secret Service agents in Cartagena, Colombia. Photo by Fernando Llano/AP

Prostitution hurts women in it, including the women in Cartagena’s legal brothels. NPR’s Scott Simon has been rethinking his understanding of prostitution – it’s heartening to hear that while he previously thought it was harmless, now he sees prostitution as exploitive and frequently a result of desperate poverty, coercion, and trafficking. Janice Raymond points out these same connections and wonders why, when the US has a policy against military use of women in prostitution – the Secret Service appears to be exempt. While there has been extensive coverage on the US Secret Service scandal and its connection to terrorism, the potential danger to Obama, and the harms to the careers of the men involved–there has been no mention of the harms to the women in prostitution used by the agents.

Raymond and Simon ask why aren’t the cases of the prostituted women being investigated for evidence of trafficking? Why is an international summit being held in a place where the exploitation of women is considered a normal activity? How is it that half of the people involved in the scandal are being ignored by the government, the media, and the public at large?

If the United States is serious about ending human trafficking, we should enforce existing policy. Swedish law, which understands that all prostitution – whether legal or not – is violence against women, would arrest the agents, probably fire them, and return them to Sweden. The challenge for us right now, as Simon and Raymond point out is to recognize the harms intrinsic to prostitution and then to take the next step–apply the laws to the sex buyers.

Kudos to Scott Simon and Janice Raymond for these excellent articles.

Take action: Call President Barack Obama and call on the U.S. government to implement a government-wide zero tolerance policy on the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking.

Phone: (202) 456-1111
Fax: (202) 456-2461
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