have always been motivated by a strong sense of justice. To me, there is no
graver violation against humanity than human trafficking, and sex trafficking,
in particular. Taking an innocent child or young adult, beating, raping, abusing
her, and coercing her into performing sex acts for monetary gain is
unfathomable to me, abhorrent.
yet, sex trafficking occurs right here in Chicago. According to the
Center for Impact Research, on any given day, an estimated 16,000 to 24,000
women and girls are engaged in prostitution-related activities in the Chicago
metropolitan area. Most have been beaten, drugged, raped, intimidated, and
abused into submission. The average life span of a trafficked child is a meager
trafficking involves the denial of the most basic of human rights. It is our
obligation as a society to protect women and children from harm, assault, rape,
and abuse, and their right to choose who, how, where, when and with whom to
engage in sexual activity.
amoutraged by what I have learned though my work with local groups doing
anti-trafficking work. My sense of justice is ignited in full force.
organization, National Council of Jewish Women, is a progressive social justice
organization dedicated to preserving human dignity and safeguarding individual
freedoms. Combating sex trafficking is a national priority for us, as nothing
poses a greater threat to basic freedom and human dignity. We can come together
now, as a community, to combat sex trafficking, to protect those being
starts with holding traffickers, pimps, and the people who buy commercial sex
accountable for their crimes and deterring them from future trafficking and
prostitution offenses. According to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information
Authority, in 2011 there were 1,871 arrests for prostitution reported in
Illinois, but only 146 men were charged with engaging the services of a
prostitute, and only 23 pimps were arrested for promoting
prostitution. Research shows that stronger accountability is, in fact, a
deterrent. We prevail upon Mayor Emanuel to make the curtailment of sex
trafficking a priority for Chicagoans by pressuring the Chicago Police
Department to crack down on sex trafficking and in particular, arresting the
traffickers and johns, instead of those being prostituted.
The best way to
proactively address sexual exploitation is to prevent it from happening in the
first place. Young men are exposed to a culture that stigmatizes women in
prostitution, yet glamorizes pimping and patronizing the sex trade. High school
curricula is available that is specifically designed to educate young men about
the harms of prostitution and to enlist them as allies in the movement to end
violence against women and girls. NCJW supports the curricula and will work to
make sure schools are using it.
must also educate Illinois residents, elected officials, policy makers, and
opinion leaders about the realities of prostitution and trafficking so they are
moved to take action against demand. As responsible citizens, we can heighten
our awareness of potential harmful situations, and report them to the National
Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline.
this year, NCJW plans to host the suburban premiereof the sequel to
Shadow Town, a recent stage play about sex trafficking in Chicagoland,
which received ravereviews and played to sold-out houses. Shadow Town
2: The Johns, will showcase the men that enable sex trafficking to thrive.
is a lot we can do to achieve justice for our trafficked women and children. I
hope you will join me.
Fishman is Co-President of the National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North
Shore Section. She is a public health consultant specializing in adolescent
health and non-profit management. She lives in Northbrook with her husband and
two teenage children.