Tim takes on a recent initiative of Amnesty International to “Legalize” prostitution. His issue with their policy lies in the difference between “legalization” and “decriminalization”. He argues that what they are proposing would endanger more children and ultimately undermine the efforts of many people to save kids from sex trafficking.

 

Tim: Hi! Thank you for joining us! This is a very special bonus edition of the Slave Stealer podcast. If you have been listening to us for a while, you know that there are a lot of aspects to human trafficking. So many drivers, so many factors. Sometimes we don’t always get the chance to elaborate within the context or whatever it is that we are talking about, but one big issue that deserves more treatment is this current push by Amnesty International to legalize all prostitution. What they are trying to do now is go out to all the countries and influence them to legalize this work. Now, there is some merit to parts of their argument, but I contend, and I contend passionately, that this legislation, if it got that far, would absolutely devastate millions of children who would be caught up in the wake of prostitution. They would be caught up in the wake… They would be caught up as victims, they would be rapedthemselves. So after we spoke with President Vicente Fox of Mexico, we got on the topic of Amnesty International’s plan, and I think I got a little fired up, so I want you to go ahead and hear what I had to say. So, let’s go and roll that.


 

Tim: And, people don’t believe us sometimes – “Oh bull crap, we don’t believe that”- or they will see a trafficking case, we will show footage and they see what looks like a victim going willingly into this place: “Well, they walked in. They weren’t dragged in by chains.” And, I get it, but it is also very offensive because I know that these kids are slaves. I see them before and during and after. We could have Elizabeth Smart come in sometime and talk about that. Don’t say anything like that in her presence because she received that criticism: “When you were in captivity, why didn’t you just run away? Why didn’t you tell the policeman who you were when he confronted you with your captors in the library that day?” And she will tell you that a child’s mind doesn’t think like an adult’s mind, and it can be very easily manipulated and really brainwashed and rewired to the point that when Elizabeth was rescued, she didn’t even admit who she was. She was still denying who she was as she was even put into the police car and taken to her father, ok. And that’s the thing people don’t understand about human trafficking, and so they misidentify the victims. Police departments have been doing it for decades. I think…in the last decade or so, I think they are trying to get out of this where they treat all prostitutes as criminals. They didn’t even stop to ask the question, ‘How did she get here?’ Maybe she is 19 years old, but did you know that she was kidnapped at 12 and forced into this life? And yeah, now she is acting out, and she is yelling and cussing at you, and she “doesn’t want to be rescued.” But she is a victim, and she needs to be treated as a victim until you figure out what is going on. And a lot more needs to be done there, but progress has been made where these women and children are not being seen as criminals anymore but as victims, but much more needs to be done in that area.

Mark: That is a legislative issue, obviously. Are those national statutes that need to be passed or are they local? Explain prosecution of prostitutes. Explain that whole dilemma to me, I don’t get it.

Tim: There is some legislative there, but there is also a lot of just how you administer or how the law enforcement administers or what questions they ask, right. Because to be prosecuted for say prostitution, requirements within that statutes have to be met. And part of that is willingly, and it was your intent to do these things. And it is easy just to make the assumption, ‘that was your intent, you wanted to do this, and so you’re guilty.’ So sometimes, it is not just the laws. The laws can be clarified, sure – you can always, you should add a requirement and say even if this prostitute, this person you have brought in…even if they are an adult, you have to prove that they meant to do this, that they wanted to do this, that this was the life that they chose.

Mark: They weren’t coerced.

Tim: They weren’t coerced into it.

Mark: Ok.

Tim: And so the questions, but the questions… The problem is, even when you have decent legislation and decent statutes, you don’t have law enforcement asking the questions, digging deeper: “Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get into this? How old were you when you got into this?” And if they would ask that, then they would see that there is coercion here. They are not going to bust out their pimps.  

Mark: No, they are scared to death.

Tim: They are scared to death. Their pimps have been beating them for ten years, since they were ten years old. So, you have got to stop and ask the question. You need experts in the field – social workers, psychologists in the field – to be able to be there and take this victim aside and talk to them. Frankly, in my mind, every country, every jurisdiction – whether it is federal, state, whatever – they all need to have legislation that decriminalize prostitutes altogether, absolutely. Every prostitute, in my mind, should be treated like a victim.

Mark: So, you are saying legalize prostitution?

Tim: I am not saying… No, you don’t legalize prostitution at all. You legalize prostitution and that means that the pimps and the johns get away.

Mark: Ah.

Tim: You criminalize 100% for pimps, for johns.

Mark: But you can’t criminalize the prostitutes…

Tim: You don’t criminalize the prostitutes.

Mark: I like that.

Tim: Yeah, I mean, there is Norway and Sweden who have both adopted that, and it is very effective. What happens there, when you do that, is those countries and those cities stop becoming havens for sex, for paid sex. Because you are criminalizing the johns and the pimps, johns and pimps don’t want to work there.

Mark: So what you’ll have are a few entrepreneurial women who are kind of like ‘Ma and Pa’ stores, but you wipe out the industry?

Tim: Yeah. You would wipe out the industry because the pimps and johns can’t… They are scared to go there.

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: And this is a huge debate right now going on with the Amnesty International’s new policy this summer they came out with in August, I believe. They came out with the sex worker shield where they are basically wanting to decriminalize prostitution for everybody – pimps, johns, and what they call sex workers – and make it legal. The idea is bring it all out into the light, and then you can take care of the sex workers and treat them like legitimate workers. You know, it is all focused on helping the sex worker. That’s their choice – they want to be a prostitute, support them, help them. And to do that, you can’t criminalize the pimps who, in Amnesty International’s words… This is very controversial. I mean, this is Amnesty International who is supposed to be looking out for the victims. And they feel like sex workers – who they call sex workers, others might call prostitutes – have been victimized and demonized and not supported in their occupational endeavors. And the problem is, is by decriminalizing this – and I see this in my work – by decriminalizing the whole process so that the sex workers can be seen as legitimate workers, like any other professional in the world and be given all the benefits…

Mark: I think the middle management and HR and marketing…they get all the departments wrapped around them: “Hey, go see the marketing guy!”

Tim: That is right!

Mark: “Make a brochure on this chick.”

Tim: That is the idea! That is the idea, like you are not letting them live their dream.

Mark: Wow.

Tim: And then the argument is this – let’s play with it a little bit because there is a strain of logic to it, right. So, the idea is you get them structured that way and then the government…because then my question is, “Ok, what about the kids?” Two million kids or more are being trafficked, sold. How do you protect them in this? Amnesty International says, “It is very easy!” All you do is you tell these jurisdictions and the police officers… These pimps get licensed; they are a licensed business. You go to them and they have to show that they are not selling minors: “We don’t sell minors. Here, look – it’s all willing adults.”

Mark: “Look at our brochure!”

Tim: “Look at our brochure! It is very clear.”

Mark: “No kids!”

Tim: And I am thinking to myself, “Ok, you are talking about these underdeveloped countries that, at Operation Underground Railroad, we are filling up their gas tanks so they can drive from point A to point B. You are telling me that your police force is going to have enough resources, time, manpower, so forth, to go and regulate these legitimate brothels to make sure that there are no minors?!” Do you know how easy it is going to be if you are Fuego, right? Fuego, who is the guy…

Mark: I remember Fuego.

Tim: We met Fuego on the beaches of Colombia and…

Mark: And you took his hat!

Tim: I still have his hat. I still have his hat.

Mark: That guy is such a douchebag.

Tim: Can you imagine… Can you say douchebag on this show?

Mark: Hey, if I put a little E next to the…we are now explicit.

Tim: Ok.

Mark: No, douchebag is not explicit.

Tim: Is “Slave Stealer Radio” an R-rated show? Let’s just talk about this and figure that out.

Mark: I think we are PG-13ish.

Tim: I just want to know what I can get away with.

Mark: In context, we’re probably considered like an X-rated show just given the general theme, but we don’t really get explicit yet until we get you on the wrong moment. Hopefully we edit that out.

Tim: Ok!

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: So, Fuego… You imagine Fuego, right. How hard is it going to be for Fuego? This is Amnesty International’s plan – Fuego should be a legal vendor as long as they are adults. The kids will be safe because they are safe with Fuego, aren’t they? You spent time with Fuego. Would you trust a 12-year-old girl to Fuego? I mean…

Mark: Friendly guy.

Tim: Here is what is going to happen: he will line up his 18-year-olds and 20- year-olds, and he’ll say, “Here’s all I got!” And those cops are not going to go the two miles down the road into the little storage facility, right, or the tractor trailer with the ten 12-year-olds and the three or four 9-year-olds.

Mark: And they are not going to check his phone to see…

Tim: No!

Mark: …you know, all the 10-year-olds with pagers.

Tim: Right! He will have those, he will sell those. They are premium! You are going to sell those for $1000; these 18-year-olds you are going to sell for $300. He is going to have those. The infrastructure to sell those little kids is now supported by the state. And he will be able to make money, he will be able to invest whatever he makes legitimately, he will pay his taxes and everything else. He will be a businessman! He is going to sell the premium because it is too easy and now you have just supported his infrastructure. How are you going to protect those kids? Amnesty International decided to ignore those kids. Those twelve kids in the back of the tractor trailer down the road – they have ignored them. And now, guess what? You have created an absolute sex haven. And let’s say that they decriminalized it like this everywhere in Cartagena. Every gross tourist from America, Canada, and Germany, and everywhere else – they are going to go to Cartagena, they are going to enjoy the adult sex, and then they are going to make a deal with Fuego on the side and say, “Hey, where do I get the 11-year-olds?” “Well, you come to this other place down the road.” And it is a booming business. I am absolutely just astonished and sickened that Amnesty International could be so incredibly short-sighted and idiotic that they don’t see that they are completely neglecting the children. They are creating safe havens. They are making it so easy for the johns and pimps to rape children.

Mark: That is pretty inflammatory.

Tim: It is inflammatory!

Mark: You just called them idiotic.

Tim: They are idiots!

Mark: What if we need their help?

Tim: Well, we won’t need their help.

Mark: Ok.

Tim: But do you know who does need their help? Fuego needs their help, and apparently he is going to get it.

Mark: So, an entire industry… You might shut down an entire industry. There might be jobless Fuegos all over Colombia, all over Mexico.

Tim: How sad.

Mark: Have you ever ordered the ‘Sin City’?

Tim: No.

Mark: Smashburger. You go down, and it is kind of like In-N-Out burger. You can show up and there is the menu, right, there is a Smashburger menu (and they are not a sponsor of this show), but you can order the ‘Sin City’ which is not on the menu. And it is kind of a niche thing for people to go in and they give you the wink and they say, “I’ll take the Sin City.”

Tim: It is like In-N-Out burger, it is the same thing. They have their Animal Fries, Animal Burgers.

Mark: Yeah, the Animal Style. Now, I see prostitution becoming like that.

Tim: That is exactly right!

Mark: Under the Amnesty plan.

Tim: Absolutely! It is exactly what it is.

Mark: I’ll take Sin City (wink, wink).

Tim: It is exactly what it is.

Mark: She is in the back alley.

Tim: It is exactly what is going to happen.

Mark: It is a brand extension.

Tim: It is exactly what is going to happen. And we know this! I know this! I know these guys! I have negotiated with them undercover, I sit across the table from them. And if it was legal to sell, for him to sell adults – which it is not in Cartagena frankly, ok. But if it were, if we all follow Amnesty International, and if they make it legal, and I am sitting across from him… Think about this, just play it out in your head – I’ve been there a hundred times. “Hey Tim, come to my office with the sign that says, ‘Beautiful women for sale,'” right, because this is a legal business. I walk in there… I mean, we have set him up, he is totally legitimate. And you don’t think we are going to have that little ‘Sin City menu’ talk? Absolutely we are going to! Because he is going to make double or triple off this sick, horny American who is sitting across from him.

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: Right? It is so unbelievable! When I saw Amnesty International’s policy, I thought there is no way, there is no way they are going to vote. Sane minds will prevail here. And they didn’t.

Mark: Who voted for it?

Tim: It is the board of Amnesty International. This is a powerful organization that has done good in the world – they are all about human rights. They have done good in the world to protect innocence.

Mark: Well, traffickers are humans. They have the right to traffick.

Tim: Traffickers have rights too, I guess.

Mark: Apparently. So now…

Tim: It is unbelievable.  

Mark: So now, Amnesty International, for the uninitiated like me, Amnesty International now goes and lobbies the UN, they lobby Washington, they lobby…

Tim: They lobby countries all over the earth. They will be going and saying, “You need to decriminalize prostitution!” And don’t get me wrong, I totally believe in decriminalizing prostitutes. They should all be treated as victims, absolutely, even if they are saying, “I’m here because I want to be – arrest me!” No, we are going to treat you like… We don’t know your story. I agree with that, that’s right. But what they do is, because the sex worker can’t provide her service if johns are scared to come buy them. So, who they are really protecting are the johns and the pimps. And they say that in their legislation, or in their proposed legislation. They say that… They don’t call them pimps, they are very careful with all the wording, but they call them ‘security’: ‘security for the prostitutes’.

Mark: They call them security?

Tim: They need to have their infrastructure, they need to have their security, which means that there could be other people helping and facilitating in their business. So, it is unbelievable. Now, will there be a prostitute that would benefit from this? Will there will be a prostitute that would say, “I truly do want to be here”? Absolutely! I believe there are prostitutes who want to be there. And might they say, “We need this policy so that we can sell ourselves freely and be sex workers by choice,” and all this, and this would help them. Yes, that would help them, but you have to weigh that against the twelve 12-year-olds who are sitting in the tractor trailer down the road from the legitimate brothel.

Mark: Whom you have seen.

Tim: I have seen them! They are everywhere! There are 2 million of them. And you have completely thrown them under the bus because you are so worried about the few prostitutes who want to be there, who love their job, and whatever.

Mark: The company guys.

Tim: I can’t say I am completely unsympathetic to that – maybe that is what their choice is and I am a libertarian in that way. I want people to be able to choose. But it is a balancing act and when you are choosing that over the children who will now be raped because you have provided the infrastructure for them to be raped, you are in the wrong. I mean, it is so clear that you are in the wrong. I know from our perspective, you know, we spend a lot time in the trenches and we see this. Perhaps the folks from the Amnesty haven’t. I have to assume they haven’t seen this, and see how easy they are making it now for children to be raped.