>In today’s New York Times, Bob Herbert wrote a very good article about sex trafficking in New York. (This might not be accessible online unless you have a subscription to the Times. If you want to read this article and can’t, let me know and I will forward it to you.) New York State, like most states, does not currently have a law that specifically forbids the heinous crime, and therefore when brothels are busted, it is usually only the kidnapped women who face charges and are criminally sanctioned, not the evil people who forced them into prostitution. A new law in the State Assembly will change that, making trafficking a felony. Penalties range from probation for a first-time offender to a maximum of 15 years in prison. It also slightly increases the penalties for the johns.

While I am glad that a law is being put in the books, I don’t think that this is good enough. First-time offenders need much stricter penalties than mere probation. That is not going to stop anyone from trafficking in the first place, and it sure won’t stop them from going back to it. Here is my suggestion: I think these people should get the death penalty. Generally, I am against the death penalty, as it tends to be racist, classist, and an otherwise poor use of the state’s power, money, and time. However, traffickers have such a brazen disregard for the lives of women that I actually do believe they deserve to die.

As for the johns, they should be charged with rape, because that is exactly what they do when they have sex with a women forced into prostitution. Herbert’s article had a line in it that made me sick: “The word spread that there was a new girl at the brothel in Queens, and the johns began lining up.” This is something that I cannot possibly understand. It is clear that these men knew that the prostitutes were being held at the brothel against their will. The woman interviewed by Herbert said that she “was crying all night.” I can understand that some people feel the need to pay someone to have sex with them, but I cannot understand how can a person be so desperate for sex that they don’t care if they are in actuality paying a third party so that they can rape someone? If someone is sobbing while you pound away, how could one not notice and think something might be wrong? Do these johns have no humanity?

Sex trafficking is one of the most disgusting violations of human rights in the world. The people involved, both the traffickers and the john, are the worst sort of slime on the earth. They should be treated as such.