Concessions workers at the Atlanta International Airport are being trained in how to spot sex traffickers and victims. One employee, Gary Norris, told wsbtv.com that before the training, he would just come in and do his job. "But now," Norris says, "you look at people, how they carry their bag or (are) walking, the expressions on their face—do they look fearful, do they look terrified?"
Because it's not enough to have Transportation Security Administration officials watching your every move suspiciously: now the guy behind the Jamba Juice counter and the gal making your Auntie Em's pretzel will be side-eyeing you at the airport, too. Wonderful.
The training was part of a larger statewide campaign "to raise awareness and curb child sex trafficking." As part of the effort, businesses including airports, buses, bars, truck stops, and strip clubs are now required by law to post signs asking "Are you or someone you know being sold for sex or made/forced to work for little or no pay and cannot leave?"
The signs also list a toll free number for victims to call. Failure to post the signs can lead to fines of up $5,000.
Stephanie Davis of Georgia Women for a Change thinks the law is necessary to curb sex tourists from New York City. "Now they don't need to go to Bangkok, they can get it right in Atlanta," she said, though why she thinks NYC predators need to leave NYC for evil-doing is beyond me.
Meanwhile, a local CBS affiliate in St. Louis is warning that "drug dealers are switching to human trafficking." And on what basis do they know this information? One quote, from one local cop, who imagines that they must be doing so because it's only good business sense.
"Once you sell your product, if it's drugs, it's gone," pointed out Sgt. Adam Kavanaugh. "You have to re-up that all the time. If you have a girl, you can use her over and over, night after night." (Why do I picture Kavanaugh salivating a little bit as he says that?)
But, you know, what's the harm of misrepresenting drug dealers? Or hanging up anti-trafficking signs? These are small things. No big deal, right?
Yet it all serves to fuel the sex trafficking moral panic that's currently raging (fanned by feminists and social conservatives and "helpful" progressives alike). That moral panic, in turn, helps grow the budgets and authority of law enforcement agencies (and social service groups) who claim to be combating the scourge. And they know this.
"Sex-work prohibitionists have long seen trafficking and sex slavery as a useful Trojan horse," wrote "retired call girl" Maggie McNeill at The Washington Post yesterday.
"In its 2010 'national action plan,' for example, the activist group Demand Abolition writes, 'Framing the Campaign's key target as sexual slavery might garner more support and less resistance, while framing the Campaign as combating prostitution may be less likely to mobilize similar levels of support and to stimulate stronger opposition.'"
The more folks succeed at a) framing all prostitution or sex work as sex trafficking and b) inciting fears about sex trafficking's rise, the more legislative and voter support will grow for anti-trafficking measures—measures that cost taxpayers money, ruin sex workers' lives, and drive more people into the criminal justice system. Measures that put more power in the hands of cops, lawmakers, and, now, airport concessions workers.
What these measures don't do, however, is actually stem sex trafficking. Groups from Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International agree that this worthy goal would actually be much better accomplished through prostitution decriminalization or legalization.