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January is national human trafficking awareness month

SWITCH has been asked, "How can you support sex workers knowing the sex work industry fuels the human trafficking industry?" Our response is, "Does it? Are you sure about that? Are you sure it isn't predators that fuel the human trafficking industry?" Sex workers should not be saddled with blame for the atrocities of the world, especially when sex workers are often on the front lines protecting children and human trafficking victims that law enforcement fails to protect.

Here, it is critical to make a distinction. A child is NEVER a sex worker and is ALWAYS a victim of sexual exploitation. Some adults are also susceptible to sexual exploitation, especially when they are afflicted with addiction, unresolved childhood trauma, an intellectual disability, a serious mental health condition, or other vulnerable circumstances. The overwhelming majority of sex workers are cognizant of vulnerable populations and are willing to intervene when they sense a person who cannot protect themselves is in danger. Most sex workers are hyper protective of children and will go to extreme measures to shield them.

For too long, sex workers have faced discrimination, invalidation of their pain, and skepticism of their motives when they have been victimized. History taught sex workers that police, attorneys, the judicial system, and politicians are not on our side, and a vigilante approach to combatting our attackers is necessary to see justice. Sadly, the same holds true for human trafficking victims. Society is generally disillusioned by the realization that underfunded law enforcement agencies fail to pursue many credible claims of childhood sexual exploitation, and that judicial processes are designed to protect defendants, not victims.

At SWITCH, sex workers are empowered to transition into economically sustainable careers if they want to. Those careers could span the gambit of anything from becoming a pilot, to a phlebotomist, to a veterinarian. It should be no secret that the founder, Christine, would love to see as many sex workers as possible pursue a Juris Doctorate and become an attorney. Representation matters so much. The more sex workers that become attorneys, the stronger we will be. A Juris Doctorate may be a component of later becoming a judge, an author of new and stronger legislation, or a CEO of an influential, powerful organization. This is important because, as previously mentioned, we know that many current judges, current politicians, and current powerful companies are failing to protect people.

In conclusion, January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and now it is time to be aware that sex workers are not the enemy; predators are.

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