Laura Thompson

“Wisconsin Is a Hub of Human Trafficking…”

"And Milwaukee harbors its pimp school!" Government officials and civic leaders announce a marketing campaign to raise awareness of child trafficking.

By - Jun 12th, 2015 01:21 pm
Dana World-Patterson of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. Photo by Laura Thompson.

Dana World-Patterson of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee. Photo by Laura Thompson.

Political leaders and members of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee met on the corner of W. North Ave. and N. 27th St. at press conference Thursday morning announcing a new marketing campaign to raise awareness of child trafficking in Milwaukee. A collaboration with Clear Channel Outdoor and Serve Marketing, this campaign will include signs at 15 bus stops and on 30 billboards around the city, as well as an interactive website. Speakers included County Executive Chris Abele, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin James L. Santelle, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karine Moreno-Taxman, Gary Mueller of Serve Marketing, Tim Marko of Clear Channel Outdoor, and Dana World-Patterson of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee.

Dana World-Patterson was the first speaker, who explained that the last week of the school year and the beginning of summer is the time when children are outside the most, and are thus most vulnerable to trafficking. She reported that the average age of victims of trafficking in the U.S. is 15, with 80 percent of the victims being women and girls, the majority children. And the situation seems to be getting worse; she noted reports that the average age of trafficked persons is gradually lowering to 11. “Wisconsin is a hub of human trafficking,” she declared, “and Milwaukee harbors its pimp school.” The purpose of the new marketing campaign, she explained, is to encourage prevention of trafficking in Milwaukee through awareness; quoting the old adage, she added that “an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.”

County Executive Abele spoke next, and said he spent 20 years working with human rights groups around the world, and described rape being used as a weapon of war. He stressed the importance of using compelling messaging, saying that if people find the images disturbing, “I hope they ask themselves, ‘do I want to live in a society that tolerates trafficking?’” Mueller and Serve Marketing are known for doing high-impact, controversial ads on issues like teen pregnancy.

Marko said his company, Clear Channel Outdoor, has been working with government agencies and nonprofits across the country to raise awareness of human trafficking. In Milwaukee, they are designating advertising space on 30 billboards and 15 bus shelters for at least the next month to carry signs designed to raise awareness about human trafficking locally.

Santelle spoke about the U.S. Attorney’s office recent successes in prosecutions of human traffickers in Wisconsin, but declared the need to do more to make sure victims of all backgrounds and races are supported.

Mueller encouraged people in the community to act as “eyes and ears” to prevent human trafficking, and noted that people can use social media to bring awareness to the issue.

Moreno-Taxman applauded the use of bus stops for signage about human trafficking: “When pimps are looking for children that they can traffic, they look at bus stops,” she noted.  She stressed need for the community to protect vulnerable children, especially “children with no hope.”

Finally, Dana World-Patterson closed the event with a resonant declaration: “Remember that our children are not for sale and that together we can eradicate human trafficking.”

Press Conference

Categories: Politics

22 thoughts on ““Wisconsin Is a Hub of Human Trafficking…””

  1. John Casper says:

    Laws prohibiting adult sex work cause a lot of this trafficking. When it’s contracted between adults, and it’s non-procreative, sex is none of government’s business. Law enforcement should focus their efforts on protecting minors from it.

  2. AG says:

    John Casper… when society has to deal with the consequences it becomes the governments business. When it involves taking advantage of women, it becomes the governments business. When it helps ruin neighborhoods and promotes other crimes, it becomes the governments business.

    And what the heck do you mean by “non-procreative sex?” So, as soon as it involves procreation then it IS governments business in your mind? How do you make that distinction??

  3. Casey says:

    Does Amsterdam have similar issues?

  4. AG says:

    I’m not intimately familiar with all the effects in Amsterdam, but I do know that they are the exact opposite of what John Casper is advocating. Their government is very hands on (no pun intended) and high regulates this very limited industry.

  5. PMD says:

    A very quick Google search suggests that Amsterdam has serious human trafficking problems.

  6. John Casper says:

    I don’t know anything about Amsterdam, but I think AG’s correct that sex work is highly regulated.

    Minors are the most vulnerable, and per what I stated above, scarce law enforcement resources should be restricted to protecting them.

    Most of what I’ve learned on this topic comes from @melissagira and her book “Playing the …..”

    Adult film star Stoya, a terrific writer, is also an terrific resource. An undergrad at Duke is working her way through school doing adult film, I find her story compelling

    It’s the prohibition, government regulations, against ADULT sex work that forces adult customers and adult suppliers into dangerous and untenable situations.

    Sex workers don’t want to catch std’s. It’s because it’s illegal, that they can’t demand lab tests to certify that their customers don’t have them. It’s because it’s illegal, their customers can’t demand lab tests that certify.

    Are people not aware of how much internet revenue comes from adult photos/video/film? Is everyone who ever looked at an adult video/photo a felon? If you’re not going to make an argument for banning adult content from the internet, please don’t waste my time complaining about adult sex workers.

    All the mainline churches have been teaching for thousands of years that sex outside of a permanent commitment is wrong. That’s their right, but a lot of their believers don’t appear to agree. If it’s non-procreative, why involve government?

    Taxing income from adult sex makes sense. That’s why we tax alcohol and gambling.

  7. Casey says:

    Based on the 4000 to 6000 prostitutes that are working in Amsterdam, only between 0.8% and 0.5% are illegally working (trafficked) in 2013.

    I’m not advocating this, just adding it to the conversation.

  8. AG says:

    Oh how fascinated I am with how the mind of John Casper works. John, I’m seriously curious about your stance on this. The whole notion of “non-procreative” intercourse. Why do you make the distinction in this regard related to when it’s the governments business? How do you make that distinction? And what sort of things do you think they should/shouldn’t do regarding when it is/isn’t procreative?

  9. John Casper says:

    AG, please keep whatever “fascinates” you to yourself. I’m not interested. I’m pretty sure no one else is.

    You’re entitled to undervalue the vital importance individual liberty plays in a democratic society.

    What don’t you understand about “non-procrative?”

    What don’t you understand about why government requires hetero couples seeking marriage certificates to get a blood test?

  10. AG says:

    Ah yes, there is nothing quite like a meaningful, constructive, intellectual conversation. I’m so glad we could have this talk.

    If you didn’t want to express your opinions on the matter, why even comment to begin with?

    And if you weren’t aware, the antiquated practice of blood tests before marriage are pretty much gone, long gone… the only holdout states were the ones that were basically “too lazy” to write legislation to get rid of them. Although I’m confused as to why you even brought it up.

  11. PMD says:

    You can’t penetrate the fortress that is John Casper’s mind. It’s like that big ice mountain in Game of Thrones only far more formidable.

  12. Kyle says:

    If there’s no such thing as non-procreative sex, then President Clinton really did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.

    Though, I suppose that would depend on what the definition of is is…

  13. AG says:

    That’s unfortunate PMD, I really did want to hear out his line of thinking. Oh well…

  14. PMD says:

    I don’t know AG. I think some things are better left unsaid. This might be one of those times.

  15. Casey says:

    Instead of heaping on Kyke lets talk about the principle he initially mentions. Lay off the adult prostitutes and focus law enforcements energy on minors. Maybe that tactic willl nip the problem in the bud?

  16. Kyle says:

    Okay, if you want to go that direction…

    When did it become en vogue to selectively enforce laws? If you think the laws are bad, then work with the system to change them. If it’s okay for some people to selectively ignore certain immigration, drug, or prostitution laws, is it also okay for people of other political persuations to selectively ignore different laws? Has the Baltimore police department’s selective enforcement of laws worked out so far?

  17. John Casper says:

    AG, thanks for educating me about blood tests. You were right. I was wrong. I was attempting to describe the understandable concerns the state has about incest.

    Advocating for the rights of adult sex workers and their adult clients is a position I’ve only come to recently and reluctantly. I’m not advocating for the industry or the customers. I accept that embodiment/sex will always be a messy, unsolved riddle in human existence. I’m happy to be wrong, but I don’t think legalizing adult sex work will automatically produce huge societal benefits or “liberate” parts of the human psyche. I also think legalization will cause some problems. Every coin has two sides. I’ve been remiss in not voicing concern about the message legalization sends to the young. I think churches/mosques/temples…. have a valid concern about sex outside of commitment, and I expect them to continue advocating for their traditional values. IMHO, for society the benefits of legalization outweigh the concerns. IMHO taxing it makes a helluva lot more sense than putting adults in jail for it. Just as we already do with alcohol and gambling, taxing adult sex work is a concrete way for society to show its disapproval/concern of the practice. Perhaps the major benefit to society is a more frank admission that we don’t have all the answers about our embodiment and reproduction/sex is a big part of that. “Sorkin on the Street’s Surge of Suicides: Ignoring the Obvious”

    IMHO legalization broadens the options for adults to seek their own resolutions to timeless tensions and my hope is that’s a net step up on the evolutionary ladder.

  18. AG says:

    John, thanks for explaining. I understand where you’re coming from now, even if I whole heartedly disagree on the merits of legalizing the trade. I doubt we’ll convince each other to change one another’s minds, though. I guess we’ll agree to disagree on this and leave it there.

  19. PMD says:

    AG why do you so strongly believe that prostitution should continue to be a crime?

  20. AG says:

    Because I don’t think the excuses of “It’s difficult to enforce,” “too many people do it,” “it doesn’t hurt anyone other than the people involved” (even though it does) or “it costs too much to enforce” are good enough reasons to make something legal.

  21. PMD says:

    Do you see any upside to legalizing and regulating it? You will never ever get rid of people paying for sex. We spend $11 billion a year on porn in this country. I just wonder if there’s a better way.

  22. KH says:

    I don’t think that you can connect pornography and prostitution. In pornography all people participating in the sex acts being documented are paid. That makes if fundamentally different than a situation where one party is being paid for a “service” and the other is providing the payment. I think there is some merit to limited, legalized prostitution from both financial and health perspectives. By regulating the industry you can ensure that the people, men or women, who are employed in the industry are being paid a fair amount and contributing to the economy by paying taxes. From a health perspective, if you regulate sex workers in the same way that individuals who work in the pornography industry, you would certainly reduce the spread of STDs by requiring medical care, testing and treatment.

    I think I understand why the question of “non-procreative” sex continues to come up. By saying the government should not have the right to interfere with non-procreative sex you imply they DO have the right to interfere with sex for procreation purposes. That leads us down an entirely different and very slippery slope involving the abortion debate and women’s health issues with I don’t think was intended. Personally I don’t believe the government should regulate any aspect of my reproductive rights or should take away choices that allow me to deal with my personal decisions safely and with proper medical and psychological care. I know there was (and perhaps still is) a big debate in the pornography industry about regulations requiring condoms be worn at all times while filming. Is that the sort of regulation you mean John Casper?

    I don’t know what the answer is. Are there good arguments on both sides? Yes. I think I lean toward the idea of personal freedom and allowing people to make their own choice regarding their bodies and personal well being. If legalizing and regulating the sex industry can potentially keep the women and men working in said industry safer, physically and psychologically, then maybe it isn’t a bad idea. I see merit in requiring psychological care along with medical care which may outweigh other concerns.

    There will always be sick people in the world that want someone completely under their control. They are the reason that human trafficking will continue to exist. If we can eliminate those people for whom that is NOT the reason they seek out traffickers by legalizing aspects of the sex trade, then maybe it can be helpful.

    Of course, this doesn’t address the moral implications of such a decision. However, the government should not be responsible for regulating morality. If you think prostitution is morally wrong, don’t go to a brothel or hire an escort. It’s that simple. Everyone should be allowed their own moral code and have the freedom to make decisions for themselves within that moral structure. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t want my choices dictated by someone else’s morality.

    Just my two cents…

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