Letters to the Editor

Sex-trade victims

I was greatly encouraged by The Tribune’s publication of how the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office is changing how it views people who have been prostituted (“DA’s Office alters policy on sex-trade crime,” March 18). I heartily agree with its conclusions to view “prostitutes as victims of exploitation or forced labor rather than as criminals.”

As the article states, “the average age of entry into the commercial sex trade is 12.” Do 12-yearolds choose to be prostituted? No. They are coerced — and oftentimes through threat, abduction, fraud or deception — they continue to be prostituted into adulthood.

A woman may look free, but in fact she has become a victim of “harmful psychological coercion a sequence of commonly-used, yet seldom-explained, mindcontrol techniques used by traffickers, sexual abusers, media and other coercive agents .” (http://www.endingthegame.com). These factors make it difficult for a victim to end the exploitation experience, and treating the victim as a criminal only makes it worse.

Thank you for bringing awareness to policies that will foster understanding and help for the commercially sexually exploited.