Martha Kuhlman looked down, feeling outside of her body. She saw herself climb into the backseat of a car in a body-hugging dress as a man promised to go get her money.
Instead of cash, he returned with a knife in hand. Before tossing her out onto the curb, the man strangled the young woman until she lost consciousness.
Kuhlman is a survivor of human trafficking. Her attacker was just one of many men who purchased sex from her while she was trafficked from age 14 to Kuhlman said that an average day for her in the sex trade included eight to 10 encounters with such men, referred to as johns, and she never saw any of them face repercussions.
However, most exchanges within the commercial sex industry go unreported with no arrests made. Of the cases where arrests occur, individuals who purchase sex can face criminal charges, but they also can be issued a municipal ticket, deferred to alternative treatment programs or have the charges dropped completely.
According to data provided by the Milwaukee Police Department, inpeople were arrested for soliciting a prostitute in Milwaukee. As the of arrests for prostitution has increased in recent years, from 65 in to inthe of people arrested for soliciting a prostitute decreased by more than half, from to Rather, he said it could be that fewer are getting caught on the street as the crime goes further underground.
In fact, no data is available on the of adult sex trafficking victims in Milwaukee, and there are only estimates of the of minors at risk for trafficking. But experts say the extent of the problem is staggering. Milwaukee repeatedly ranks among the top cities for human trafficking in an annual nationwide FBI sting to recover victims. There is no data available on the of adult sex trafficking victims in Milwaukee. A study by the Medical College of Wisconsin documented minors who were trafficked or suspected to be trafficked in However, Backpage Escorts Luxemburg WI is likely a drop in the bucket.
Detective Dawn Jones, who has worked for the Milwaukee Police Department on human trafficking in the city sincesaid that Milwaukee is known nationwide for juveniles being trafficked in the commercial sex trade. The of youth at-risk for trafficking gives a better indication of the scope of the problem regarding minors.
Exploit No More, a local nonprofit organization, reported that there are approximately youth in Milwaukee who are homeless, have run away or receive emergency support services. Additionally, inthere were 5, cases of child sexual abuse reported.
Katie Linn, the executive director of Exploit No More, said that these estimates "barely scratch the surface of what's going on. Milwaukee has been considered a hub for human trafficking and a space for pimps to grow. The black market nature of the commercial sex trade makes it difficult to track how many individuals purchase sex in Milwaukee in a given year, and little research exists on the matter.
However, research conducted by the Urban Institute shows that the commercial sex industry in eight U. World-Patterson said that the city as a whole needs to focus more on decreasing the demand for commercial sex by paying attention to the people who purchase it.
Research conducted for the U. Kuhlman said that as a survivor, she is frustrated by the perceived impunity that johns benefit from and wants to see tougher sentences for sex buyers. Dana World-Patterson, chair of the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee, is working to educate young men on the role they can play in ending the demand for commercial sex.
Photo by Ni'Sea Wamubu-Thurman. A bus full of rowdy, loud elementary school students drove past Sgt. Theresa Janick standing on a street corner near Lisbon Avenue, flinging jeers out the window as easily as they fired spitballs in class earlier that day. Janick, who has worked undercover for MPD for four years, said that catcalling from passersby, no matter their age, is not unusual.
She recollected feeling degraded after being offered items such as a cheeseburger in exchange for sex, and said she is always Backpage Escorts Luxemburg WI when solicitors try to barter with her. From her undercover work and work with victims of human trafficking, Janick said her view of individuals in the sex trade has changed. Janick and detective Dawn Jones said that many of the sex workers they encounter were driven to the streets by circumstances.
The average age of entry into the commercial sex trade is Research shows that people experiencing poverty, homelessness, abuse or addictions are more at risk of being trafficked, but survivors and advocates point out that trafficking can affect anybody. She wants everyone, especially young women, to be aware of what trafficking looks like.
World-Patterson, Linn and other local advocates said that often someone trusted and loved by the victim, such as a boyfriend or family member, first coerces girls to sell their bodies for commercial sex. Janick said that she often hears from people that prostitution is a victimless crime. Jones agreed, saying that people justify purchasing commercial sex by rationalizing that the sex workers are consenting adults, but that is rarely the case.
She said sex workers are almost always beaten and manipulated. Police officers, advocates and survivors all agree that johns, or people purchasing sex, come from all walks of life and that many have power or influence.
Although no research has been done in Milwaukee specifically, experts such as Vednita Carter say johns are relatively consistent from city to city and year to year. Inaccording to data collected by Breaking Free, the majority of sex Backpage Escorts Luxemburg WI in Minneapolis were college-educated, married men between the ages of 30 and Sixty-seven percent were white, and 66 percent had children. Such sites have become platforms for johns to purchase sex, experts say. Research conducted by Arizona State University in shows that one out of every 20 adult males pursues online sex.
On a weekday early in the morning before the day shift starts, police officers wait patiently in line to talk to detective Dawn Jones of the MPD Sensitive Crimes Division after a special in-service training they just received about human trafficking. Theresa Janick said. When officers hear that the victims of human trafficking most often enter the sex trade as teenage girls, it gives them a new perspective on the issue.
She added that she has never seen officers wait in line to speak with the instructor after other in-service trainings. Jones said she has made it her mission to educate police officers on how to identify trafficking through extensive training in the department.
She noted that instances of force, fraud or coercion or the exploitation of youth can be challenging to detect. SinceJones has trained more than 3, police officers in Wisconsin on human trafficking. As Jones goes through the stacks and stacks of files atop her desk, she listens to church music to keep her focused on why she continues to do this difficult work.
In the two years prior to starting her job, Jones said that there were no human trafficking cases opened in Milwaukee. Within her first week, she opened several cases.
The fluctuates, but about are now open. Jones said that some cases can require up to 30 separate search warrants and can take weeks to investigate properly because the evidence is often unconventional, underground and spread out. Conducting undercover trafficking operations is taxing on both time and manpower, occupying up to eight officers at a time, Janick added.
Only three people work full time in the Sensitive Crimes Division, which handles the cases. Law enforcement officials and advocates say that while many trafficking cases involve the victim, the john and the pimp, most investigations focus primarily on the victims and the trafficker but not the johns. She said that the division decides when and where to conduct sting operations and investigations depending on where juvenile victims are identified or suspected.
Multiple operations are conducted some weeks, and none other weeks.
Agencies participating in the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee work to provide a continuum of care for victims. Jones said that her partnership with Janick and District 3 makes the operations more effective. Police districts conduct sting operations targeting those who purchase sex separately from human trafficking investigations, which focus on rescuing victims.
The stings that target sex buyers occur from several times a month to once every few months depending on the district, according to Jones. On the prosecution side, it is not feasible to thoroughly investigate johns suspected of purchasing sex from trafficking victims, even when they are arrested, Ladwig said.
Carter said she has seen similar resourcing challenges in Minneapolis and in other places. Other cities have found resources and support for demand-focused initiatives through organizations such as Cities Empowered Against Sexual Exploitation CEASE Networka Boston-based organization that provides grants and facilitates collaboration among cities working to target sex buyers.
It is more difficult to apprehend and prosecute those who purchase sex from a minor than those who purchase from adults on the street, Jones pointed out. Sting street operations to catch johns can only be conducted with an undercover officer who is of age and acting on her own volition. As a result, these types of stings cannot be used to apprehend perpetrators for soliciting for prostitution or for any human-trafficking related charges. Even if someone is found to have purchased sex from a juvenile victim in the course of Backpage Escorts Luxemburg WI investigation, Jones said that it is often challenging to prosecute because it can be traumatizing or scary for the young victim to testify in court.
Nevertheless, Jones said anyone who purchases sex from minors should be held able. In an approach new to Milwaukee, Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Davis has charged both the trafficker and the john in a recent case involving a minor. Martin Rice, a year-old white man from Granville, has been charged with two felonies after purchasing sex from an underage victim: soliciting for prostitution and second-degree sexual assault of.
Davis also filed multiple felony charges against Mandrell Blain and Mario Newburn, two men who allegedly trafficked the minor in the same case. In Minneapolis, charging johns for soliciting for prostitution, a felony, is already normal. The police department is conducting demand-focused stings as part of an effort called Operation Guardian Angel.
The operations specifically target those soliciting sex from minors through fake online advertisements selling sex with an underage girl. From tothe most recent year for which data is available, the of people charged under the statute that prohibits soliciting for prostitution nearly doubled, from 58 to In September alone, 21 people were charged as a result of the sting operations. This added attention was focused on those who purchase sex in Minnesota after Safe Harbor laws were passed inwhich decriminalize youth involved in the sex trade and draw a stronger connection between child sexual exploitation and trafficking.
Among other things, the laws increase penalties against sex abusers and purchasers. Complaints from residents about prostitution in their neighborhoods prompted an innovative community response to prostitution and trafficking in Milwaukee.
Community prosecutor Chris Ladwig works in close partnership with community members, the Benedict Center and the District 3 police on an effort called the Sisters Diversion Program, formerly known as Operation Red Light, which aims to address every facet of the problem. Ladwig said the unit partners with Janick and other officers, primarily conducting street operations to apprehend sex workers, but also those who purchase sex.
The unit has begun to target the demand in several ways. The letter typically says that the person was seen in an area where there has been a lot of prostitution activity and is intended to serve as a warning not to return. A study conducted by Prostitution Research and Education found that 80 percent of sex buyers interviewed said that such a letter would deter them from purchasing.