Letters: DA Rice right to 'Flush the Johns'

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said most

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said most of the 104 men arrested last year in the "Flush the Johns" anti-prostitution sting will be allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge that will leave them with no criminal record. (Credit: Newsday) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

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What the editorial board of Newsday fails to see in its critique of District Attorney Kathleen Rice's Flush the Johns initiative is that addressing demand -- that is, targeting johns -- is a critical tool in addressing prostitution and sex trafficking [" 'Flush' sting was a stunt," Editorial, June 5].

The violence that prostituted and sex-trafficked people suffer at the hands of traffickers, pimps and johns should matter to us as much as any other crime. While many of us erroneously believe that prostitution produces no harm, the reality is that the average age of entry into the sex trade is 12 to 14. They do not graduate at 18 to a person trapped in a "victimless" crime.

Women exploited in prostitution are 300 times more likely to be killed and are reported to have a life expectancy of 34 years if they stay in the sex trade. They also disproportionately suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at levels that equal or surpass those of war veterans.

Rice is doing her part in focusing on johns who contribute to this suffering. Flush the Johns is not about publicity; it is about justice, promoting equality and ending violence.

Taina Bien-Aimé, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women.
 

Newsday's editorial attacking Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for her prosecution of sex-industry buyers demonstrates a shocking ignorance of the connection between patronizers of prostitution and the global human-trafficking industry.

Newsday writes, "Nassau is besieged with crony politics, a growing heroin problem and persistent allegations of police misconduct. It did not seem that prostitution was really where Rice needed to focus."

Around the world, human traffickers reap an estimated $32 billion annually. The economic engine is men who buy the bodies of women and children.

Sex buyers demand three things of their human merchandise: youth, compliance and exoticism -- so that the goods purchased don't remind them of their wives and daughters at home. That is the reason that most victims are young, female and of color.

Recognizing that addressing demand is the best way to curtail supply, Rice's Flush the Johns is the best prosecutorial strategy to curtail and prevent sex trafficking in Nassau County.

Dorchen A. Leidholdt, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the acting chair of the New York State Anti-Trafficking Coalition.
 

An 18-year-old woman from the North Bronx recently told Albany legislators that when she was 9, she was lured into the commercial sex trade. For nearly four years, she was viciously abused and repeatedly raped not only by her trafficker, but by countless buyers who purchased her body for sex.Around the world and throughout the United States, an increasing number of jurisdictions target sex buyers as an effective strategy to combat sex trafficking.

The Nordic model criminalizes traffickers and sex buyers, while decriminalizing and providing exit services to people in prostitution. Ten years after it was adopted in Sweden, an independent evaluation found Sweden to be an "undesirable" destination for traffickers because fewer men bought sex. No buyer, no business.

In cities like Chicago and Boston, advocates and law enforcement are working together to eliminate trafficking by holding sex buyers accountable.

District Attorney Kathleen Rice's initiative to eliminate demand is a far cry from a publicity stunt. Instead, it is a measure to reduce gender-based violence and protect girls.

Judy Harris Kluger, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the executive director of Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit providing services and advocacy to survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking and related forms of gender violence.
 

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has taken a strong stand on prosecuting men who patronize prostitution, and with good reason. The demand for prostitution means that there are huge financial rewards available to pimps and traffickers who can supply young women and girls to sex buyers -- even if the women and girls have to be coerced, abused or brutalized into complying. Abuse and violence are the norm, not the exception.

A society that's serious about stopping sex trafficking has to address both sides of the problem. Prostituted women and girls, most of whom urgently want to get out, need help and services. And the buyers and sellers must be held accountable, or they will simply move on to new victims.

Newsday's criticism of Rice misses the role that sex buyers play in an exploitative criminal industry.

Sonia Ossorio, Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the president of the National Organization for Women, New York City.
 

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