From Minneapolis Star Tribune:
Working as a prostitute in Chicago decades ago, Beth Jacobs said she frequently got arrested, caught by both undercover stings and uniformed police officers.
It wasn't the same for her customers or her pimp.
"My pimp never went to jail and I went all the time, because I was the one that was out there," said Jacobs, who now works as public policy coordinator for Breaking Free, an organization in St. Paul aimed at helping women out of prostitution.
It's a pattern that is often true in Minnesota, according to a Sex Trafficking Needs Assessment report released Monday at the state Capitol. Changing that pattern to place pimps and customers in greater jeopardy is one of more than two dozen recommendations in the report.
While this report found problems in a variety of areas, it is a positive sign that Minnesota is evaluating this serious issue, and their response to it, while looking for ways to make positive changes.
What is happening in sex trafficking has a strong relationship to both official and unofficial actions related to trafficking.
Those who want to deny or minimize the harm done to the trafficked often want to dodge responsibility for that harm by calling any harm self-inflicted or by saying that legalization will instantly reduce that harm.
If someone is trapped, whether the trap is physical by being in a brothel which is more secure than most banks, or psychological by threats, addictions or something deeper, that trap won't come undone when the trap is made legal.
I don't believe in the strategy of harm reduction. Those who are trafficked need harm elimination, not simply a reduction of harm.
Part of harm elimination needs to be providing practical and effective help for those who have been trafficked. Another part relates to the prosecution of customers which should include a diversionary program so that those customers who are in denial about the full reality of trafficking cannot claim ignorance if they are busted a second time. And that second conviction should have a sentence reflecting the seriousness of the harm done through sex trafficking.