“Victimless crime.” “Consenting adults.” “Waste of time.”
Every time I either write about or hear about a police department conducting a prostitution sweep, the comments inevitably come in, questioning why a municipal police department should devote time and resources to enforcing prostitution laws.
Here’s the truth: Prostitution is rarely a victimless crime and often does not involve consenting adults.
Prostitutes are rarely individual women, acting alone, trying to make money. They are often victims of human trafficking and forced drug addiction, and they aren’t making money; their tormentors are.
Take, for example, two cases investigated in the early fall by the Arlington Police Department. The first case involved two men who kidnapped a 17-year-old girl out of a group home and forced her into prostitution. The second case involves a man who got a 15-year-old girl addicted to heroin and then pimped her out on backpage.com.
So, when I write a press release announcing that Burlington Police arrested 7 men during a reverse prostitution sting, it’s about more than just making quick arrests. Whether you’re dealing with underage victims or heroin, crime is about supply and demand. Police go after the customers and the suppliers, in part because reality shows us that criminal groups kidnap underage girls and use them to make money as forced prostitutes.