When I heard that one of our elected officials had devised a policy to decriminalize sex buyers in our society, I was shocked.
In Michigan, Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit has designed a policy where sex buyers will not be criminally indicted for the purchase of sex.
Savit disputes that his policy is “empowering” for women selling sex in consensual affairs. He says he plans to continue to indict trafficking and transactions involving minors and violence.
Nothing is empowering about prostitution and allowing the commercial sex industry. We have observed around the globe that the sex industry thrives when it is legitimized. When the demand for retail sex increases and there are no willing participants to fill the order, sex traffickers enter to satisfy that demand with vulnerable persons — especially young adults and children.
The sex trade preys on the helpless. The massive majority of those trafficked are girls, females of color, homeless youth, and LGBTQ. And however, in his first days in office, Savit declared a policy that will normalize an essentially harmful sex trade and further disenfranchise those he pledged to protect by excusing most sex buyers from prosecution.
For a decade as chairman and CEO of Vista Maria, I have seen first-hand the suffering and trauma caused by sexual exploitation and trafficking of large numbers of children placed in our care. We have given treatment services to girls as young as 11, with a typical age of 15. Trafficking practices for children last not days but years. Our Michigan childrens’ rights organizations have been striving tirelessly to conquer trafficking.