I am excited to be joining friends -- international anti-trafficking expert Beth Klein and Colorado activist/organizer Debbie Fischer, along with a slate of bipartisan supporters, to testify on behalf of CO SB85. SB85 will stiffen fines for johns that are currently set so low, they are never enforced. The increased revenue from the fines will be put into a fund to create a "john's school" -- teaching customers of prostitutes the unintended consequences of their actions.
John's schools have worked well in other states. The most famous of them may be the San Francisco First Offenders of Prostitution Program (FOPP). According to a report commissioned by the Department of Justice, the program accomplishes its goal of reducing recidivism of solicitation by educating the public about its consequences --increased human kidnapping and trafficking, physical and sexual abuse of children who are forced into prostitution as teenagers, and creating a class of "throw-away" young people who are more-often-than-not addicted to hard drugs. The average life expectancy of a prostitute is only seven years from the beginning of their "career" due to frequent beatings, substance abuse and sometimes, murder. John's school teaches about the negative effects for customers as well, including the increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Opponents of SB 85 have argued that prostitution is a victimless crime. Beth Klein and other experts will attest to the growing problem of human trafficking for sex, and how sexual slavery exists right here in Colorado. The industry of prostitution relies on the kidnapping and abuse of millions of innocent girls, and sometimes boys, who are forced or manipulated into selling their bodies for sex, in exchange for food, drugs, and sometimes, fewer physical beatings. Debbie may share the painful story of her sister's tragic life for the very first time. My own experience as a former crisis center counselor talking to girls, both on the streets outside of Detroit and in downtown Denver, was that they desperately wanted to get out of the sex trade, but feared for their lives from abusive pimps -- many of whom were their boyfriends, husbands, brothers, and sometimes even -- their own mothers.
Opponents of the bill have also argued that proponents are all "repressed fanatical right-wing anti-sex church ladies like Rosina Kovar ". Some may be. In my case, and the case of my friends, nothing could be further from the truth. Proponents of SB 85 are from both sides of the political aisle -- Debbie and I, for example, were identified as two of three of the state's best grassroots leaders on the left, when we met with Democratic National Committee Chair Tim Kaine last year.
Beth Klein has traveled all over the world as an expert on anti-trafficking, meeting with celebrities and politicians monthly, garnering support for her anti-slavery efforts. In this month's "More" magazine, Beth is listed as one of "50 Women You Want On Your Side" with the likes of Michelle Obama, Kirsten Gillabrand, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, Melinda Gates, Tina Brown, Sheryl Sandberg, Diane Von Fursenberg, Gloria Allred, Queen Rania, Aung San Suu Kyi, Gabby Giffords, Meghan McCain, Oprah Winfrey, Meg Whitman, Angelina Jolie, Elena Kagan, Elizabeth Smart, Ruther Bader, Sonia Sotomayor, and Hillary Clinton ("The Fierce List", pg 110.) Beth has also been identified as one of the "21 Leaders of the Twenty-First Century".
"Repressed church ladies with an anti-sex agenda like Rosina Kovar", we are not. We are mothers and activists who care about the slavery of innocent people, and want a better life for your daughters and sons. We hope you'll join us.
I invite Kos' readers to join us at the House Judiciary Committee Hearing today (Thursday) at 1:30pm in the basement of the CO state Capitol.