prostitution

March 3 is International Sex Workers' Rights Day. This protest took place in 2008 on the steps of San Francisco's city hall. The red umbrella symbolizes protection from violence.
Flickr Photo/Eliya

Some state lawmakers want to crack down on sex trafficking by cracking down on demand. Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, has a bill in the state House that would allow law enforcement to confiscate the cars and money of people who buy sex, just like they do in drug busts.

“Not only will it make the buyers of sex think twice about doing it in the state of Washington, but the revenues that we then get will be used to help fund rehabilitation programs and the policing,” Muri said.

Mary (a pseudonym) is a sex worker in Seattle and member of the Seattle Sex Workers Outreach Project. Mary told KUOW’s Marcie Sillman that while new penalties would not be aimed at sex workers, they would still be bad for sex workers.

A panel discussion on regional sex trafficking featuring (left to right): Zan Brookshire, Peter Qualliotine, Dan Satterberg, Robert Beiser, David Arkless, Mar Brettman, Pete Holmes, Noel Gomez and Valiant Richey.
KUOW Photo/John O'Brien

King County and Seattle are looked to as leaders in the effort to prevent sex trafficking. But according to Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg the county has over 100 websites facilitating the sale of sex.

A recent Seattle research survey conducted over a 24-hour period counted 8,700 online postings and responses concerning men seeking commercial sex. 

Marcie Sillman talks to Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes about the City Council's consideration of changing the name of the crime "patronizing a prostitute" to "sexual exploitation."

Also, Dr. Melinda Chateauvert, author of "Sex Workers Unite: A History Of The Movement From Stonewall to SlutWalk," explains why she believes the use of the term "sexual exploitation" to describe the crime is wrong. 

"Natalie" sits in the kitchen of her parents house. She was 16 when she ran away from home and fell in love with a guy who turned out to be a pimp.
Courtesy Tim Matsui/ Alexia Foundation

The Long Night,” a documentary about child sex trafficking in the Seattle area, is being released online Monday. Sara Lerner speaks with filmmaker Tim Matsui, who says he believes exploiting minors in this way is a symptom of underlying causes.

Flickr Photo/Brian (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Meredith Dank, senior research associate at the Urban Institute, about a new King County law enforcement initiative that cracks down on sex buyers.

Flickr Photo/Michael Scheltgen (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A new study finds spending on the underground sex trade in Seattle has gone way up. Of the cities studied, Seattle is one of only two where spending increased, and it’s not pennies: $50 million in 2003 to $112 million in 2007.

Flickr Photo/publik16 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A new human trafficking bill passed the state Legislature Monday that will allow victims who were forced into prostitution to clear their records of prostitution charges.

Removing one conviction has already been the law for a couple years. But now, a victim is able to get more than one charge vacated.

Flickr Photo/Brian (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Those caught up in it call it "the life." It usually involves a pimp, coercion and prostitution.

For young victims of sex trafficking, getting out of that life and building a new one can be a monumental task. Having a rap sheet for prostitution makes it  incredibly difficult to apply for jobs, or housing, or school — the things it takes to start over.

Jack Hitt On Making Up The Truth

Writer and storyteller Jack Hitt has made a career portraying the larger-than-life characters he's encountered: a flamboyant neighbor who made international news as one of the world's first transsexuals, a building superintendent who was also a Brazilian mobster. "Why do these things always happen to you?" people ask. They don't, he says. Unbelievable stories happen to everybody. His new solo show mingles these stories with scientific research to show how our story-generating brains are constantly editing reality and "making up the truth" for us. Steve Scher talked with Jack Hitt in 2009.

The Art Of Poetry With W.S. Merwin

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin is best known for his writing about the Vietnam War. Merwin has written and published poetry for over 50 years and translated the works of Dante and Pablo Neruda. He also comes from the generation of some of America's most famous poets: James Merrill, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, James Wright and John Ashbery. What was it like to work in that company? Steve Scher talked with W.S. Merwin in 2010 about the art of poetry.

Life As An Underage Prostitute

Have you heard of a "choosey Suzie" or a "wife-in-law?" Do you know what being "in pocket" is? Thousands of underage kids trapped in prostitution know all too well. Steve Scher talked with Joanna Ward, then a case manager at YouthCare’s Orion Center, and heard first-hand stories of underage sex trafficking.

People take long flights to pay low prices for sex. In a radio story from WGBH, Phillip Martin explores the international sex tourism industry. Here in the Seattle area, Highway 99 hosts one main corridor where prostitution is easy to see. Hot spots dot the roadway, from Northgate to Sea-Tac. 

Some of those prostitutes are also underage girls, forced by pimps to walk the streets. That's called child sex trafficking.