Recent local legislative actions in major U.S. cities show alarming ignorance of state and federal law regarding human trafficking, and put those cities in danger of violating the constitutional rights and legal protections of vulnerable persons. Local actions are extremely important and directly impact the national and global treatment of women and children.
On November 11, 2012 the City of St. Louis, Missouripassed an ordinance to remove “prostitutes” from St. Louis’ streets. This ordinance makes no provision for screening “prostitutes” for human trafficking victims, even though human trafficking victims’ presence in street level commercial sexual exploitation is well known and documented, and Missouri is no exception to this.
Nor does the ordinance mention or take action against the buyers of prostituted or trafficked persons.. Which is to say the law targets women and girls, leaving men free to go elsewhere to drive the market for commercial sex and human trafficking.
This misogynistic point of view is well illustrated in a February 15 St. Louis FOX affiliate KTVI news report calling an area on St. Louis’s south side a “playground for prostitutes.” Really? Isn’t it a playground for the men buying them? Alarmingly, I have been approached by outreach workers worrying how very young many of these girls look. If they are under age 18, they are victims of human trafficking, and yet nothing in the St. Louis ordinance screens for victims of sex trafficking. Furthermore, a witness says that he sees pimps dropping girls off. Is the city completely unaware that pimp = human trafficker? Is the city unaware that any child being prostituted or bought is a victim of human trafficking? Why doesn’t the city go after the pimps, traffickers and buyers? Federal and state laws give law enforcement plenty of ammunition to do so.
Source: Huffington Post