Cindy Gustafson is no stranger to standing up for what she believes. In the 1990s, after learning about the issues that lead to prostitution, she worked with her police department and community members to close down the largest strip club in her county. It was then that Cindy got her first glimpse into the world of human trafficking.
Years later, when Cindy retired in DC, she realized that first glimpse had stayed with her. “I remember seeing the ages of prostitutes getting lower and lower”, she says, recalling when she first volunteered with DC Stop Modern Slavery. “I started coming to meetings and learning about how huge an issue this is.”
Cindy has since been with DC Stop Modern Slavery for four years, and is currently leading the Advocacy Team in its End Demand Campaign. The campagn is forming a coalition of local community members, anti-trafficking NGOS and other supporters to lobby the D.C. City Council to strengthen D.C. anti-trafficking law. In particular, the campaign seeks to strengthen the Demand Laws that affect the buyers of sex, known as “johns.” Once these laws are strengthened, the campaign will focus on helping ensure they are fully enforced.
“The lesson I learned was it always comes back to the buyer.
If there is no demand, you don’t need a supply.“
Currently the laws have minimal penalties for purchasing sex from an adult, or even a minor. Cindy has spoken to police officers who have told her that, if they pick up a john on Monday morning, there is a good chance that they will pick up that same john again on Tuesday, and perhaps again on Wednesday—all for the same reason. The current laws are not reducing demand.
The goal of the End Demand Campaign is to end demand for human trafficking in our nation’s capital through a three part plan: 1) Inform the community, 2) Reach city council members, and 3) Change municipal legislation.
If the changes proposed by the End Demand Campaign were to pass, along with being required to register as a sex offender on the first conviction and potential asset forfeiture, a buyer’s name and photo would be posted in newspapers and the internet, and the individual would receive both longer jail time and much larger fines. The increased fines would then be used for victim services. These proposed changes are supported by research that shows that 72% to 83% of johns would be deterred from buying sex if penalties were increased.
Louisiana, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington have all introduced demand laws to their legislatures – Washington, D.C. would not be the first to do so. All of these demand laws have been modeled after a law that dramatically curbed the demand for human trafficking, the Swedish Kvinnofrid law. We will discuss more about this law in further detail in our next blog post.
We need YOU to help the END DEMAND Campaign!
Learn more about the human trafficking issue!
Are you a D.C. resident? Contact DC-SMS, tell us your Ward number or your address
so we may add you to our roster of End Demand Campaign Supporters.
We will then be able to contact you when it is time to lobby your City Council Representatives to end Demand!
Volunteer with our team on communications, blogs, training sessions, etc.!