Anti-trafficking Task Force in New Hampshire?

I am a survivor of juvenile sex trafficking here in New Hampshire. I have lived here almost all of my life.

It was great to see that NH had been granted $1,300,000 federal dollars to combat human trafficking. My first thought was that it could be used to help prevent trafficking, if it were used well. It could be used to crack down on sex buyers and rescue victims. Or it could be used to provide resources to help people escape from all forms of human trafficking.

Kate D’Adamo was announced as the new lead for the New Hampshire Human Trafficking Collaborative Task Force Advisory Committee. She previously led the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project in New York City and has been working for years to legalize prostitution.

It was frustrating news to see that an outspoken advocate of decriminalizing prostitution entirely, including buyers and pimps, would be taking the lead for the NH anti-trafficking task force. Her smooth talk of decriminalizing the sex trade to ensure safety for sex workers shields the most contemptible practice of human slavery. Her motives may be well-meaning, but she is terribly misinformed. There is substantial empirical evidence from RI that prostitution is harmful to people. Our southern neighbor decriminalized prostitution for almost three decades.

Prostitution is harmful to the people involved. It is bad for legitimate businesses and is bad for communities. As I mentioned, I was sold for sex as a teen. Very few buyers recognized me as a person. They paid their money and used me in any way they wanted with no regard for my age, health, life, or my future. It was often very violent and I suffered all sorts of deprivations. From no food and shelter to gang rapes and beatings. I was hospitalized with sexually transmitted disease. I was in and out of foster care. Finally, I was threatened with my own death if I didn’t abort my baby.

I managed to escape, but sadly many young people die due to injury, disease, drug and alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, violence and deprivations. The constant sexual and emotional abuse inherant in prostitution causes long-term trauma, which has its own set of physiological and psychological consequences.

Decriminalizing pimping and the sex trade would tie the hands of investigators. The buyers and the sellers would be able to continue their devastating business, while victims would have no clear way out. Sex trafficking is not an event, but a process and the results of that process. Sex trafficking cannot exist without the existence of prostitution.

Even with laws against prostitution, the more egregious elements are prevalent. Trafficking is the engine pimps use to lead their victims into prostitution. It is just the darker side of the very same dark coin.

Trafficking victims don’t know they are victims. Traffickers and pimps work by force, fraud, or coercion. Their victims are often kept compliant with psychological tactics, as well as, language barriers, drugs, disorientation, threats, and violence.

Ms. D’Adamo has a long history of aggressively advocating for the sex trade. Her views about prostitution must not influence the direction of the NH Task Force.

New Hampshire deserves better. We need leadership that is committed to protecting those who are most marginalized, not someone committed to expanding the sex trade, protecting buyers and putting money in the hands of pimps.

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