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The Fort Worth law enforcement officer said his colleagues, like the public in general, see prostitutes as the criminals, not the victims. Usually, when a prostitute is arrested, the men — “the johns” — are just told to leave the scene.

That situation has been reversed in Sweden. Since 1999, buying sex there has been a felony, but selling sex is legal. The innovative law made the john the criminal instead of the prostitute.

According to a story last year in the British daily newspaper The Guardian, the number of women engaged in prostitution in Sweden has fallen by two-thirds since the law took effect. The idea is simple: Take away the demand, and the supply will drop as well.

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In the United States, “john schools” are popping up across the country to focus on rehabilitating the men who are buying sex — and therefore, in theory, beginning to reduce the demand. These schools attempt to show the dangers associated with prostitution, from contracting sexually transmitted diseases to endangering the lives of women.

Waco’s police department was the first in Texas to organize such a school, designed for first-time, nonviolent offenders. Since its initial class in 2002, more than 100 johns have attended, and only three have been arrested again.

“We ask guys if they want to go to this or if they want to go to jail,” explained Anita Johnson, the Waco police detective who started the diversion program. “They choose the program. And it’s good for everyone.”

 

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Bouché is one of many researchers who believe that the real demand for prostitution starts with pornography.

“Porn is so normalized,” she said. “We talk about ending demand for prostitution, and it’s a huge disconnect. There’s a direct correlation between looking at porn and buying sex.”

In a national study she conducted earlier this year, 74 percent of men reported having watched pornography — and she believes that figure is probably an understatement. Porn is getting more ubiquitous and violent, and children are viewing it at younger and younger ages, Bouché said.

RISE participants Tina Poole, left, Crystal Jordan and Arletta Grant chat in Judge Brent Carr’s coutroom.
RISE participants Tina Poole, left, Crystal Jordan and Arletta Grant chat in Judge Brent Carr’s coutroom.

“If we don’t start talking about porn, we can never stem the tide of sex trafficking in this country,” she said.

“The target market for porn is 11-year-old boys,” said Grover, the Dallas Baptist University instructor. “And pornography is fueling the  demand [for prostitution].”

The Fort Worth officer agreed. “In our culture, everyone watches porn. Nobody is surprised by it, and it’s not considered to be bad,’” he said. That presents men and boys with a distorted view of relationships. It tells them that sexual gratification can be achieved without relationships and without permission.

“There’s no ‘no’ involved in porn,” he said. “In real life, there’s ‘no’ all the time with real women.”

He said that using pornography leads to strip clubs and then to using prostitutes.

“There are a lot of studies on that,” he said. “But I’ve just seen it” on the street.

 

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Many women follow that same route into prostitution, the officer said. A typical progression for teenagers and adult women, especially when drugs are involved, is to start as a stripper and later become a prostitute.

Crystal Jordan, 26, said the RISE program probably saved her from becoming a prostitute. At 18 she started working as a stripper in Fort Worth to pay for her pain pill addiction, and later, heroin.

The beautiful blonde with a big smile and contagious laugh had a painful childhood. The physical and sexual abuse started at age 8.

That kind of abuse changes the way kids view themselves and their bodies, explained Becka Meier, clinical coordinator and counselor at The Women’s Center of Tarrant County. Around 7 or 8, children are developing a sense of self, safety, and the world around them, she said. “When sexuality is addressed at such a young age, kids don’t have the framework to handle it.

“It’s natural for abusers to say, ‘You wanted it. It feels good. This is what love is. This is what people who love each other do,’ ”Meier said.

That experience in turn makes it incredibly hard for children to distinguish between abuse and real love, she said. Early abuse distorts their view of romantic relationships as adults.

Jordan ran away at 14 to escape it, but she had no money nor any way to support herself. She began depending on a string of boyfriends for everything.

A year later, she got pregnant. At 17, she was a mother of two.

“I was stripping and making $500 to $1,000 a day, and it was all for pills,” she said. “I didn’t have a thing to show for it.”

Just before she was old enough to legally buy alcohol, she permanently lost custody of her two children.

After that, Jordan used the drugs to forget. And she stripped because that was all she knew how to do. Her body had been sexualized since she was a little kid.

After another six years filled with drugs, bad relationships, and self-loathing, Jordan was 24 and pregnant for the third time.

She was high when her baby was born.

Owen was born prematurely, with health problems that threatened his survival. Jordan believes it was her drug addiction during pregnancy that hurt him, and she carries that guilt like a rock strapped to her back.

But this time around, some things changed. A nurse suggested that she give the baby up for adoption, and she did.

“I could finally break the cycle,” she said. She wouldn’t lose another child to Child Protective Services. Owen lives with his parents in Garland.

Jordan’s drug addiction hadn’t gone away, but what happened to her next because of it made a huge change in her life.

In June 2013, Jordan was arrested for methamphetamine possession. And she was given a choice: Serve six months in state jail or be admitted to Tarrant County’s RISE program.

“I knew this was my way out,” she said.

But it was so hard, trying to change everything she’d ever done, that she almost gave up.

“I was numb for the first six months, and I thought about running,” Jordan said. “It was just a lot of hard stuff to deal with, and you want to paint rainbows and butterflies over everything and feel like it’s OK, but you can’t do that.”

Today Jordan has worked her way into the fourth phase of the program, where she is focused on creating a career to support herself. She’s still living at a group facility that provides structure and a case manager.

She’s due to finish the program next August. She started her first class at Tarrant County College last month. She wants to be a social worker.

“They don’t give up on you,” said Jordan. “They believe there is an alternative way, and they know something has happened in our lives that made us this way — that made us hate ourselves.”

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Regardless of one’s personal stance on people buying and selling sex, the claim that “the average age of girls who are compelled into prostitution is 12 to 14” is a myth, and not doing a fact check on such an important matter is more than just an oversight.

    For starters, look at Chris Hall’s article “Is One of the Most-Cited Statistics About Sex Work Wrong?”. You’ll find plenty of facts and sources in it. He concludes with a statement Ms Angle should take to heart:

    “For those of us who write about sex workers and those who make laws that determine their lives, they are a reminder of our responsibility: To quiet the voices in our heads and listen, rather than repeating numbers without knowing what they mean or where they came from.”

    http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/09/is-one-of-the-most-cited-statistics-about-sex-work-wrong/379662/

    • So you are saying that all the organizations that have devoted their lives to helping those trapped in this modern day slavery are making up facts? I know ppl who have helped rescue ppl as young as elementary aged and then on an every day basis groups here are taking in teens as young as the ones you say are mythical. 1 in 7 runaways (on the low end) are trafficked within an extremely short time of leaving their homes. Traffickers wait at train & bus stations looking for those they can manipulate. They are very skilled at finding vulnerable youth. Then when they get them to their house (typically on the guise of saying they will take care of them) they are often raped and beaten into submission.

      Calling those that are being trafficked “sex workers” might imply that they are actually the ones getting paid. THATS the myth. The one making the money is the pimp. An average trafficker can make $250,000 a year of ONE girl/woman. While he is becoming a millionaire, her average life expectancy is 7 years.

      I too once was not knowledgeable about this. Then I decided to get involved. I see the results. My friends bear the scars physically and every other way of this so called “sex work”. Atleast call it what it is…slavery.

      • Girlfriend. Go read the article linked in his comment. He’s right, and it’s more complex than what you’re saying. Stop being defensive long enough to learn something.

  2. You lose me when your philosophy predictably includes the following sentence: “There’s not enough money allocated to the issue in Fort Worth to accurately measure its prevalence and make people sit up and take notice, she said” So you are admitting that you really do not know the extent of the problem– which, more than likely, is why people are indifferent. Where would said money go? How efficiently would it be used? If you admit that you don’t know the extent of the problem, how can you have a viable plan? Money given to lard butted bureaucrats and assorted “do-gooders” will not put a dent in an age old practice. It would be refreshing if someone,anyone didn’t use human suffering as a tax payer funded poorly defined career opportunity.

    • there are many of us “assorted do-gooders” as you mentioned that work day in and day out for not.one.cent to help those in this city that are stuck in this modern day slavery. If you could sit across from these brave women who- much like slaves from hundreds of years ago- are compelled into this by various things and then when they want to get out, they are in danger of their life. Literally. They are beat, raped, tortured, forced to work for NOTHING and treated as less then human. That money you think they are making actually goes to their task masters. Yes, this is happening here and I- as well as many ppl I know- fight tirelessly- at much cost to ourselves in time and other expenses- for these brave ladies to know that someone, somewhere loves them and believes in them. seems to me they are worth tax dollars more than other things we waste money on….

      • OK well here’s a novel idea: if you are a prostitute get off of drugs, disavow liquor and get a job —ANY job. Try to re-create a link with your family if the government hasn’t destroyed it in the name of greater “Guberism”. Go to any local parish and proclaim your need for some further assistance. I am personally not impressed by life long criminals who really don’t want to give up their lifestyles—but want some crafty profit mongering PR firm or homeless shelter to perpetrate their cycle of destruction at tax payer expense.

        • Skeptic, I, unlike you, and I’m even convinced, most other knuckle-headed, self-worshiping, Tea-Bagging half-wits and perverts love America. Why do you hate America? What is it about ‘for it is in giving that we recieve’ that confuses you? Surender your selfish arrogence and put your silly, stinking Guberism into your pointed ears. Why do you hate and abuse our Lord’s simple instructions. Salvation Army and many, many other charities and Americans learned that as children.I got you on my Prayer List.

  3. Thank you for showing that these women are more than just “former prostitutes.” They are real people with goals and dreams. And I also believe that what Ms. Angle referenced about more severe prosecution of johns would go along way to slow the demand for prostitution. I hope more action is taken soon.

  4. This article shows a part of Fort Worth that few people want to see or even think about. I applaud the authors efforts to turn over the rock and show what’s underneath. You can look at the wording and statistics or look at the big picture. Yes this problem has been around for a while and will probably be around for a while longer but if this article reaches that one person that has a world changing idea that changes the game, then it was worth writing. But I have been know to always see greener grass. Thanks for the article.

    • Sorry but the purveyors of this industry are not going to read this newspaper or have a “Road to Damascus” experience and give up an illegal profitable life style. The economy is terrible and about to get worse with more illegals under the social welfare umbrella–that is specifically why this article is written–to bilk the hard working tax payer out of more money.

      • Yes. North Texas (and TX across the board) is methodically indoctrinated in order to maintain the population of drugged, dumbed down and distracted so MX and Central American “golden children” can continue to pour in, be “received” accordingly, get the multitude of services they need (while American citizens/veterans die awaiting treatment and or earned benefits). TX, already disproportionately illiterate, illegal and illegitimate, will continue to be the preferred territory for the former and related benefactors, including the reported 6 major MX cartels headquartered in DFW. Fort Worth does the best job of welcoming and hosting them resulting in a predominance of growing underclass; count on the proliferation of sex trafficking, drug distribution, sales and storage, illegal guns and associated disproportionate street and business crime. Locally, the inmates have had the keys a long, long time.

        • ‘For he was a stranger and he let me in’….’Love your neighbor as yourself’….you Peckerwoods are a piece of work. I humbly suggest you grow up and get a life.

  5. I believe it took great courage to tell the world there life stories and Miss Jordan is an amazing person that has come a long ways I am truly amazed of all her accomplishments she is an inspiration to us all and I am truly honored to have the opportunity to get to know her I would like to thank the rise Program for helping this wonderful woman and helping them become the woman they are truly meant to be.

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