Tomorrow morning one Steven Smith, 45, is scheduled to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of hiring and using a prostitute. Smith is an average name for an average crime, indeed it appears to be commonplace these days to hear of men paying for sex. The story is only made a slightly more startling by the fact that until yesterday, Smith was the Chief of Police for the Robbinsdale Police Department.
Smith was arrested along with 9 other “Johns” on February 20th as part of a prostitution sting on a house in Coon Rapids. When Smith was arrested, he did divulge the fact that he was in law enforcement. Likewise, after the arrest he did not say anything to his co-workers or staff about his arrest. But he was obviously aware that the truth would catch up with him, so yesterday he submitted his resignation to Robbinsdale Mayor Regan Murphy.
Murphy has minimized Smith’s crime, saying that Smith was an excellent Chief, and that he hopes in the future police will be judged by their interaction with members of society while they are on the job, rather than what they might do while off duty. Other city employees have echoed this sentiment, portraying Smith as an ideal employee and public servant who made a small indiscretion. This type of attitude epitomizes the apathetic view that many people have regarding prostitution and its victims.
Local groups such as Breaking Free and Cornerstone are committed to raising awareness about the facts regarding prostitution and its ties to domestic abuse and child abuse. In addition, many human rights organizations and church groups are educating the community about these issues.
The facts are:
The average prostitute in Minnesota starts as a victim of human trafficking.
The average age of a human trafficking victim is 13.
Young girls are lured into becoming human trafficking victims for various reasons. Traffickers, also known as pimps, prey on girls who are vulnerable. In Minnesota, it has been estimated that a runaway will be approached by a pimp within 48 hours. Our extreme weather contributes to the vulnerability of these girls, because finding a warm place to sleep on a cold winter’s night can literally be a question of life or death.
In addition to runaways, Pimps/ Traffickers have admitted that they prey on girls who are misfits in one way or another. Whether they are poor, developmentally disabled or already the victim of some type of abuse, a trafficker will see that insecurity and use it to his full advantage.
After gaining the girl’s trust, the next step is to A: Gang rape her and brutalize her repeatedly, and/or B: get her addicted to drugs. If all of these steps do not seem to be keeping her properly enslaved, the pimp will make threats against her family members, friends, or anything else that she cares about. The result is a young woman who is drug addicted, uneducated and brainwashed. She is told that she has no place in society except as someone’s slave. As she grows older, she becomes less attractive to men so she may seek financial gain by helping the trafficker to entice other young girls or to help him in his drug deals, or, she may continue her work as a prostitute but find that she has to do things that she had previously swore were off limits, such as having sex without a condom or allowing the John to beat her. It is currently estimated that 50% of prostitutes have the HIV/AIDs virus, and that the average prostitute is beaten at least 12 times each year. However many young women who are trafficked don’t ever make it to adulthood. If they don’t die from repeated beatings, drug overdoses or sexual diseases, they usually commit suicide. They are also 20 times more likely than the average woman to be the victim of a homicide.
For more statistics about prostitution, see the following link-
As was previously mentioned, prostitutes are often kept in control by their pimps with the use of illegal drugs and/or the threat or practice of violence. The black market drug trade is currently largest moneymaker in the world, and does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The second largest black market crime is tied. Depending upon who you ask, 2nd place either belongs to the market for guns and weapons, or the market for humans, (i.e. human trafficking,) estimated to profit over 32 Billion dollars every year. When one looks at the power and control exerted by pimps, it is easy to see how these three black markets are intertwined. When Chief Smith paid for the services of a prostitute, he was contributing to the most unconscionable acts currently destroying this country, making a mockery of the pledge “To Protect, and Serve.”
For more information about local groups that help to fight human trafficking, see the following link-
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