Sex Trafficking

Stossel: Moral Panic Over Sex Work

Police often accuse people of "sex trafficking." Usually, it’s simply prostitution.

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Police often use "sex trafficking" and "prostitution" interchangeably. That's what happed in the Robert Kraft case, says Reason associate editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown.

Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, was caught in a "sex trafficking" sting.

Law enforcment "had all of these big announcements at first saying that…these women were being forced there and they weren't allowed to leave," Brown explains to John Stossel.

But now prosecutors in the Kraft case concede that there was no trafficking.

That's usually the case when it comes to "sex trafficking" busts, says Brown: "I'd say 99% of the headlines are not true."

Brown covered a similar case in Seattle where the cops claimed to have busted a sex trafficking ring. In a press conference, King County Sheriff John Urquhart said: "These women are true victims."

But the court documents "actually paint a very, very different story," Brown points out. "No one has been charged with human trafficking in that case."

Yet politicians and the media often exaggerate the frequency of trafficking. Congresswoman Ann Wagner claims, "Right now almost 300,000 American children are at risk".

That 300,000 number is repeated constantly in the media. The number is based on a study that has been disavowed by the lead author, Richard Estes. "Many people debunked the study and say, 'This is just a total bullcrap number,'" Brown says.

She adds, "When we have these exaggerated numbers, it forces people to go into this crazy emergency moral panic mode that ends up not helping the actual problem that we have."

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The views expressed in this video are solely those of John Stossel; his independent production company, Stossel Productions; and the people he interviews. The claims and opinions set forth in the video and accompanying text are not necessarily those of Reason.

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24 responses to “Stossel: Moral Panic Over Sex Work

  1. What ever happened to “our bodies, our choice”?

    1. Its only your choice if you make the pre-approved “correct” choices

  2. Mr. Stossel would have significant credibility if he would provide a link to the analysis that shows the number of sex-trafficked people is grossly inflated. There’s nothing like data to shed light on reality. Maybe there were no sex-trafficking charges filed in the cases Stossel mentions because there was not enough evidence to bring charges. White collar crimes are almost impossible to prosecute because it is almost impossible to intent beyond a reasonable doubt. Plausible deniability is an extremely potent defense that white collar criminals use to get off all the time. Maybe there was sex-trafficking, but Stossel doesn’t go into those details, so no conclusions can be drawn. One has to take Stossel at his word. Of course, one could just dismiss this bit of fluff as just an advertisement for Mr. Stossel’s business.

    1. The allegations in the “Robert Kraft” case were pretty explicit – that the women were brought from China under false pretenses and forced into prostitution against their will. They were actively moved from location to location every few weeks by the owners of the sex trafficking ring, forced to give up their passports, forced to sleep and eat in the place of business, not allowed to interact with the community…
      These allegations are not very difficult to prove. They would be very easy to prove. All they had to do was ask the “victims”. Just two of them providing testimony to such treatment would probably be enough to win a conviction. In fact, with the draconian tools they could bring to bear to coerce such testimony, it is shocking that they did not make such a case.

      1. “In fact, with the draconian tools they could bring to bear to coerce such testimony, it is shocking that they did not make such a case.”

        The pimps may also be aware of the power of coercion and have more resolve to make their threats stick. Without cooperating witnesses, the allegations might be impossible to prove.

    2. Since so seem to feel so strongly about it, how about providing your own statistics and affirmative truth on “sex/human trafficking vs. asking Stossel to prove a negative?

      1. The regulations will continue until you can prove a negative. We have no time to wait for “facts”.

        1. You just perfectly summed up the progressives approach.

          1. My God man THE CHILDREN! Have you no soul?

            There, that completes the summation.

    3. What, the fact that the principle author of the study that the inflated value came from in the first place disavowing the study isn’t enough? How much of a cite do you think can be readily provided in a video? Did you even watch the video?

    4. Well since you asked
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/05/28/the-bogus-claim-that-300000-u-s-children-are-at-risk-of-sexual-exploitation/?utm_term=.87d295758d36

      “Maybe this maybe that, maybe we need the nanny state to save us all” is all I read from your comment.

    5. “Mr. Stossel would have […] just an advertisement for Mr. Stossel’s business.”

      That’s a whole lot of words to say *you* don’t have any data.

    6. According to a report conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, anywhere from 100,000 up to 300,000 American children at any given time may be at risk of exploitation due to factors such as drug use, homelessness, or other factors connected with increased risk for commercial sexual exploitation.[30] However, the report emphasized, “The numbers presented in these exhibits do not, therefore, reflect the actual number of cases of CSEC in the United States but, rather, what we estimate to be the number of children ‘at risk’ of commercial sexual exploitation.”[30] Richard J. Estes, one of the report’s authors, noted that the report was based on 25 year old data, and was out of date because the world of the 1990s “was quite a different one from that in which we live today.” A report from the University of New Hampshire says that only 1,700 kids reported having engaged in prostitution. David Finkelhor, one of the authors of that report, said “Given that running away has declined, I wouldn’t put any stock in these figures as indicators of what is going on today”.[31]

      Glenn Kessler (September 2, 2015). “The fishy claim that “100,000 children” in the United States are in the sex trade”. The Washington Post.

    7. In 2001, the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work released a study on CSEC conducted in 17 cities across the United States. While they did not interview any of the adolescent subjects of the inquiry, they estimated through secondary response that as many as 300,000 American youth may be at risk of commercial sexual exploitation at any time.[39] However, the actual number of children involved in prostitution is likely to be much smaller: over 10 years only 827 cases a year had been reported to police departments.[40] Scholarly research funded by the National Institute of Justice and realized by the Social Networks Research Group at John Jay College of Criminal Justice [2]. The Center for Court Innovation in New York City had used Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS), Social Network Analysis, capture/recapture, and Markov based probability estimates in 2008 to generate a prevalence estimate for New York City that suggested far fewer commercially sexually exploited children than the 300,000 and far more than the 827 suggested by these two most widely read sources.[41]

      Curtis, R., Terry, K., Dank, M., Dombrowski, K., Khan, B., Muslim, A., Labriola, M. and Rempel, M. The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York City: Volume One: The CSEC Population in New York City: Size, Characteristics, and Needs. National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice. September 2008.

  3. “Police often use “sex trafficking” and “prostitution” interchangeably.”

    What is real sex trafficking and is it worse than prostitution?

    1. “Sex Trafficking” is the old Victorian/Edwardian “White Slavery” panic with the serial numbers filed off. Historians generally seem to agree that the White Slavery panic was in large part a crackdown on long accepted levels of prostitution driven by women, because Victorian/Edwardian women feared that without exclusive control of sex, they would be unable to attract and control a man.

      I suspect that a great deal of the Trafficking panic has to do with Modern (heterosexual) Feminists being uneasily aware that their personalities are so toxic that if men can buy sex, THEY are going to get awfully lonely.

      I end it telling that so many of the programs intended to fight Trafficking include placing the Trafficked women in group homes that are essentially prisons…but without a definite sentence length, or the messy bother of an actual trial. I also find it telling that the one cycle of exploitation of women that the anti-Traffickers mostly won’t tough is the treatment of women by radical Islamists.

      1. “Historians generally seem to agree that the White Slavery panic was in large part a crackdown on long accepted levels of prostitution driven by women, because Victorian/Edwardian women feared that without exclusive control of sex, they would be unable to attract and control a man. ”

        I’m surprised that the fear of sexually transmitted diseases like syphilis played no part in the panic. Syphilis was still incurable at the time and put women at risk of catching the disease from a husband fresh from a romp with a diseased prostitute. I understand your point about women resenting the fact that men would squander the family resources on prostitutes but I don’t think this rises to the level of panic.

        “Feminists being uneasily aware that their personalities are so toxic that if men can buy sex”

        Maybe you aren’t familiar with many prostitutes. Their personalities can easily be just as toxic as the most strident feminist.

        ” I also find it telling that the one cycle of exploitation of women that the anti-Traffickers mostly won’t tough is the treatment of women by radical Islamists.”

        You’re telling me seriously that those who oppose sex trafficking actually support it so long as the traffickers are radical Islamists? Sounds like a load of bullshit, and in any case irrelevant.

        1. “Maybe you aren’t familiar with many prostitutes. Their personalities can easily be just as toxic as the most strident feminist.”

          Sure, but the johns don’t have to deal with the prostitutes toxic personality for weeks/months/years, just to get laid once.

        2. If a rabbi, priest, or minister repeated Farakon’s sermons about empowering women by keeping them modest and in the home, most Democrats would freak out.

          1. Farakon doesn’t support Islamists pimping women into prostitution and feminists don’t support Farakon supporting Islamists pimping women into prostitution. The idea is bullshit and if it doesn’t set your bullshit detectors a ringing, you need to listen to someone like me who knows what they are talking about and not parrot the latest idiocy you hear.

  4. These f’n bots are out of control; can reason not filter these? Or are we so committed to granting them their freedom of speech that they will be allowed to post their bogus enticements all of this thread.

    If we are going to allow that, can we not get some honest sex workers here? At least there would be a pro for the quid.

    1. Reason had a report spam before the update, but even if reported they were never taken down. Now the report spam is gone with the new format. My guess is they are really paid ads, which is why Reason keeps them on.

  5. Moral panic is good for the police. We must save the children, we need extraordinary policing powers to save the kids. Give them to us, we promise not to abuse that power! Sure, we won’t falsely arrest, imprison or shoot you because of those powers, that is until we do, and that is okay, because we are always found not guilty.

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