by Jacqueline S. Homan, author of Classism for Dimwits and Without Apology
Many people claiming to support poor trafficked women offer up legalizing prostitution across the board. They call for decriminalizeing pimps and brothel owners and the johns as the only way to decriminalize poor prostituted women and girls.
I don’t see why the over-privileged, self-entitled RAPISTS (aka “johns”), whose MONEY and MALE PRIVILEGE in our male supremacist society drives this industry of misogyny of prostitution, enriching brothel owners, pimps and traffickers at the expense of poor women and girls’ lives—must be shielded and further privileged with anonymity and lack of accountability (which they currently enjoy, for the most part) as a precondition for decriminalizing the prostituted and expunging the prostitution records for those of us who are survivors who would not have those arrest records barring us from getting jobs had we not been trafficked in the first place.
As an aside, it is patently unfair to poor women that MALE convicted FELONS (many whom are convicted PEDOPHILES and murderers) are given hiring preferences for good-paying jobs at places like GE while POOR women—especially poor women who are trafficking survivors with unfairly levied prostitution records—get NO such opportunity for that same helping hand up.
The MEN whose money was used to STEAL and DESTROY my life and crush all my hopes, dreams and aspirations underfoot just because I was female, poor, orphaned and HOMELESS at age 13 in a rich white male dominated society can damn well pony up and use their unearned privileges to support poor trafficking survivors like myself and put me on my feet and help me rebuild my life and the lives of other sex trafficking victims too, and pay for social programs for the traditionally disadvantaged to reduce/eliminate vulnerability to traffickers. Sorry, but these deviant pigs owe poor prostituted women and kids BIG TIME.
Why should these “johns” continue to be given a free pass and not even suffer the least bit of repercussions for their actions as a condition of decriminalizing poor prostituted/formerly prostituted adult women (most whom were pressed into the sex trade between the ages of 12-14)
The johns are clearly the ONLY ones with any real agency in this whole sordid matter. It’s THEIR money, and THEIR choices that keep traffickers, brothel owners, and pimps in the lucrative business of selling and re-selling the bodies of poor women and kids over and over and over.
Why should the johns be protected with an ongoing free pass as a condition of supporting poor vulnerable women with an economic safety net to reduce our vulnerability to traffickers, and for providing sex trafficking victims/survivors with exit programs that must include an economic safety net, access to medical and dental care, and affirmative measures of social acceptance backed up with a guaranteed access to the good jobs we need and deserve—instead of having these perps being held accountable for using their MALE PRIVILEGE to oppress women, using their money (that they’re getting from the same good jobs they monopolize by DENYING poor women an equal opportunity for) to violate and degrade poor marginalized and abused women?
Sorry, but those fuckers used their money, power and privilege to make this mess so they can bloody well clean it up and answer for all the lives they’ve ruined.
To insist on affording the johns the privilege of lack of accountability—legally, economically, and socially—is to put one’s self squarely on the side of the traffickers and pimps.
This society has the blood of its poorest and most marginalized and disprivileged women on its hands, and I REFUSE to be polite about that. And you don’t need to read Macbeth to know that blood is not so easily washed away.
Yes, I am demanding justice. And for poor sex trafficking victims/survivors like me, justices means implementing the Nordic Model with exit programs and economic safety nets for the poor to reduce/eliminate vulnerability to trafficking, and affirmative action employment at REAL jobs—not blowjobs—for poor women NOW!!!!!!!!
And even though SOME formerly trafficked women might be able to get prostitution arrest records wiped, but it costs a LOT of money—something that 99% of trafficking survivors do NOT have. I should know, having personally spent my whole life in dire poverty, unable to ever get a chance for a job (at least, for more than a week) and get on my feet.
I have NO other criminal record other than prostitution arrests from when I was 13-17 years old when I was trafficked because I was poor, female and HOMELESS – and prostitution as the “Final Solution” for POOR women and girls was the ONLY place this society decided I was allowed to have.
The fact that I have been allowed NO OTHER PLACE in society EXCEPT the gutter has been driven home to me over and over again throughout the past 29 years of my life since escaping the rape industry of sexual slavery, every time I was denied jobs that I otherwise would have qualified for—no matter what I struggled to accomplish to make myself “worthy” of a chance for a job.
I have a Bachelors degree in math w/ a minor in physics that opened NOT ONE door for me. All I got was a mounting unpaid capitalized student loan debt (now totaling over $50K with capitalized interest) that I will NEVER be able to afford to repay.
I also have an impressive writing portfolio ranging from freelance investigative journalism to ghostwritten bioethics articles and grad school dissertations (much of that was FREE work to “build skills” and “gain experience”, but it never materialized into a chance for a job for me) to FIVE self-published non-fiction books centering on social justice. None of that opened any doors for me, either.
Which for me, meant an entire lifetime ever since escaping from my traffickers at age 17 in 1984 of having NO ability to live with the minimum human dignity of being able to afford food, medical and dental care, clothing, heat in the winter, hot water to bathe properly with, and transportation (where I live, the temps dip down into the single digits so being unable to afford utilities is literally a death sentence).
Until age and the physical damage to my hips and back from injuries incurred from being trafficked caught up w/ me, I had to spend MANY years digging through other people’s trash for scrap metal just to get BARELY enough money to even stay alive. If not for a crazy old coot 25 years my senior caring enough about me to marry me so I’d at least have a roof over my head and an old used Ford truck to drive, I’d have ended up dead from being destitute out on the streets long before now. He had very little: only a social security disability check of $900/mo, and that was the ONLY income we had as a couple to live on. Now I am widowed and cannot even get a social security’s widow’s benefit of $470/mo (based on the 55% of what my spouse’s allotment was that I’ll be entitled to) until I turn 59 1/2 years old—which is 13 yrs from now (I am 46 yrs old now).
Every day of my life these past 29 years since escaping my traffickers has been a daily fight for basic survival. But NOBODY cares!
Instead, people blame the victim. Not because they don’t know any better, but because that’s what makes them feel good about themselves. Because NO ONE wants to admit that just MAYBE they’ve benefited, directly or indirectly, from an entire array of injustices that secured their privileges and opportunities for them at the expense of those with NO fucking privileges—women who were discarded into the prostitute class, usually long before we were old enough to legally be considered “women.”
Last month I nearly DIED from being unable to get helped with treatment for the SECOND broken abscessed tooth I suffered within the span of one year. (I have more bad bottom teeth that will eventually need to come out and be replaced with a denture but I have NO way of getting that).
As a theater of last resort, I reached out for help on Facebook and many people took it upon themselves to make calls on my behalf and thoroughly investigate possible avenues of help for me as an indigent woman who is a trafficking survivor. People didn’t believe me when I said I could not get helped, which is why I was having to beg for money from them.
Well-meaning and responsive activists and supporters called EVERYONE and EVERY local charity in my area and found that I was indeed telling the truth. They found out first hand for themselves that there really was no way for me to get helped even at the local sliding fee clinic.
The infection was on its way to my heart before I finally got helped because of getting the donations to my emergency medical fundraiser that I needed and was able to get antibiotics and the oral surgery.
So no, there really isn’t “all this help out there” for chronically poor female prostitution survivors whom this whole society turfed out.
I got slapped with a life sentence at the age of 13. What the hell did I do to ANYBODY to deserve that? I deserved to have a life and a future just as much as everybody else!
Based on what I observed and personally experienced as a poor trafficking victim, charities for the most part merely serve as a wealth protecting tax shelter that serve to ensure good jobs for those with middle/upper class privilege (from steady funding streams of donations and federal block grants), doubling as a conscience-laundering vehicle for a selfish and downright apathetic society that values the lives of poor trafficked women and kids less than the pimps, pornographers and traffickers do.
Worse is that these same NGO’s that claim to be all about “empowering” poor trafficking survivors will NOT hire us because of criminal background checks that come back with prostitution arrest records. One more way for the professional middle class (who dominate this movement and who are sucking up all the money that is supposed to be going for “helping” poor trafficked women and kids) to serve as gatekeepers to keep POOR trafficking survivors from being able to get jobs—including in the ONE area where a reasonable person would think we SHOULD be getting hired in.
I don’t know how many trafficking survivors have reluctantly returned to the sex trade after being rescued from it because of being denied ANY and ALL means of economic survival: there is NO economic safety net for the economically excluded and marginalized whom NO ONE will hire, and NO justice in hiring practices so that survivors can be empowered for real instead of only through lip service.
Gee, how convenient for women with privilege who have options, for they are secure in knowing that their poorest and most marginalized sisters will never be able to compete with them for a chance at getting ANY jobs. And it’s a MILLION times even MORE convenient for MEN with privilege and money who are therefore guaranteed access to a permanent pool of prostituted people—a permanent underclass of the underclass—whose bodies they can rent to abuse and torture and degrade because this society has served to fulfill the prophetic words of the pimps, pornographers, traffickers, johns and porn sots: “Once a whore, always a whore.”
I don’t need “spiritual healing”, I need food, medical and dental care, a warm house, hot water to bathe properly, clothing, and a chance for a job and/or an adequate economic safety net including income support so at least I can live what’s left of my life with just a little bit of human dignity.
I don’t need to “learn how to develop a positive attitude”, I need to have something real to be positive about.
This society owes me at least that much for failing to protect me and turfing me out when I was orphaned and homeless and trafficked at 13, and for subsequently condemning me to total exclusion and permanent, life-threatening poverty with no way out and no hope after I escaped from my traffickers and the sadistic rapist-johns who relish having power that their money and male privilege affords them over poor women and girls— as punishment for what was done TO me by others.
If society truly is sorry and truly cares about POOR trafficking survivors, this would not be my reality.
The answer to a lifetime of being denied any real opportunities should NOT be legalizing paid rape and abuse, allowing poor discarded women like me no other option except the legal “right” to “choose” to return to “sex work.” I need JUSTICE. And giving a not-so-respectable veneer of “legal” to a sexual predation industry as the only solution for poor women like me is NOT justice.
Jacqueline S. Homan
As an impoverished trafficking survivor with NO income, fighting for human dignity to abolish slavery and fighting for restorative justice for those of us who are struggling for our lives and basic human rights as victims of an industry of sexual torture, slavery, and the added oppression of stigmatization which has barred me from any employment in post-Welfare Reform America, your support is desperately needed so I may continue my work in educating the public about this very important human rights issue. Please donate to support my work and my quest for restorative justice. Thank you.
Jacqueline S. Homan