Our CEO, Kristin Keen, has a surprising long-term goal. She wants to put Rethreaded out of business.
Because Rethreaded will continue its work for as long as there are lives to reclaim from trafficking, her goal will only happen one way. Together, we must end trafficking.
To beat our common enemy, we first have to understand that it is, first and foremost, a business. And like any other business, the only way to end it is to make it unprofitable or, to put it another way, to take away its customers.
Sex trafficking as an industry
The first thing most of us learn about economics is the law of supply and demand, or, essentially, that businesses will provide something if people are willing to pay for it.
It’s the same with trafficking. As long as people will pay money for sex (demand), other people will find a way to supply it to them.
Simply outlawing the buying and selling of sex won’t stop it, either. Much of this industry exists in the shadows, finding creative ways to meet consumers’ demands and get paid.
And that demand is significant.
- Human trafficking brings in $99 billion per year.
- Backpage.com made $500M in prostitution-related income.
- Human trafficking, whether for sex or forced labor, is the second-largest criminal industry on the planet.
To beat a foe this big (and lucrative), we have to assess the way we approach the sex industry both through our culture and our laws. Focusing on just one leaves a lot of opportunities on the table for pimps and johns to continue doing what they do.
To kill an industry, you have to take away its customers
It’s a common misconception that sex trafficking is an issue of focus mostly for women. But, the truth is that both women and men are broken by the sex trade and the industry that supports it. No one interacts with the sex trade and leaves unscathed.
That’s why it takes all of us, working together, to stop the sex industry and its ruinous effects. Rethreaded welcomes both men and women to be part of the solution in our city.
We know that men comprise 99% of the customers, so our efforts to curb this demand have to fall disproportionately on helping men to avoid the broken road toward buying sex.
As one of our survivors put it, it’s similar to the journey of addiction and exploitation that brings many women to the same transaction. Both parties get what they thought they wanted, but they both leave worse off.
The truth is that men buy sex because they feel a need for power, but they want to avoid intimacy, and they want to escape loneliness. But even while they’re consuming sex-for-trade, they feel the emptiness; a majority of men reported that they had wanted to stop what they were doing.
While they likely felt shame, we shouldn’t celebrate this sense of regret as a victory. Shame heals no one, whether it’s the victim or the customer. And, because it doesn’t address the underlying problem, shame alone won’t stop a man from coming back again.
That’s why we have to support programs that address pornography and sex addiction, and mental health crises for the men in our communities. Each man who recovers from one of these underlying causes is one less buyer.
We can support culture change through the law
Prostitution is illegal in every state in the US, with the exception of a few rural counties in Nevada. However, the law does not yet broadly differentiate between those who are consensual participants and those who are performing non-consensual acts, as part of a trafficking business.
This leverage is often used by traffickers to keep women quiet; they threaten them with legal penalties and their potential consequences, like losing custody of their children, as a means of control.
There are conversations in progress here in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, to change this, both taking away penalties from victims and making it impossible for their traffickers to use the law as a means of control.
This is just one part of the Nordic model, which has been successfully adopted first in Sweden and then in Norway, Ireland, France, Canada, and Israel.
The Nordic Model flips the equation, focusing, instead, on arresting and rehabilitating buyers. This creates a deterrent, offers accountability, and matches men with the services they need to heal and recover.
It works. In 15 years, Sweden has seen the demand drop by half.
Here in the United States, 900 cities are addressing demand through similar means. One standout example is Seattle, where men, once arrested, are taken through a course created by survivors and former sex buyers who are using their own journeys and experiences to stop the cycle.
These brave survivors and former buyers are a perfect example of Rethread’s mission in action; they’re rethreading stories of brokenness for a greater purpose
Help us stop trafficking here, there, and everywhere
Kristin recently summarized the strategy to end trafficking in this Ted Talk, which we encourage you to listen to, as you continue to find your voice in the growing conversation around ending sex trafficking.
From there, your next step is to take the 100% Club Training.This initiative was started by Attorney General Ashley Moody with a goal of educating the public on how to safely spot and report human trafficking. This training consists of one video and takes about an hour to complete. After completion you will receive a certificate to recognize your advocacy.
Fill out the form below to receive the training materials and join the 100% Club. By submitting the form, you will be registered to receive community education resources and updates.
To stop sex trafficking, we need every man, woman, and household in Jacksonville to opt out of a system of exploitation and choose, instead, a path toward rehabilitation for the millions of Americans who have been broken, in some way, by a twisted story about sex.
Let’s write a new one together.