CRJ 442 Victims of Sex Crimes

Sept 4 2007 New York Times
Obstacles to reporting sexual assault
Attitude Change Paper
Sept 4 2007 New York Times
Pornography Reading
Critiquing research articles
Links to sites referred to in class


New York Times

September 4, 2007

Las Vegas


Bob Herbert.

There is probably no city in America where women

are treated worse than in Las Vegas.

The tone of systematic, institutionalized

degradation is set by the mayor, Oscar Goodman,

who told me in an interview that the city would

reap "tremendous" benefits if a series of

"magnificent brothels" could be established to

cater to johns from across the country and around

the world.

"I've said there should be the beginning of a

discussion of that," said Mr. Goodman, a former

defense lawyer for mobsters who unabashedly

describes his city as an adult playground where

"anything goes - as long as you don't go over the


Most of the lines in Vegas have long since been

erased. It is without a doubt, as the

psychologist and researcher Melissa Farley, says,

"the epicenter of North American prostitution and

sex trafficking."

Vegas is a place where women and girls by the

tens of thousands are chewed up by the vast and

astonishingly open sex trade. You can be sitting

at a traffic light and a huge mobile billboard

will drive past, promising, "Hot Babes - Direct

to Your Room."

I was drawn to this story by an advance copy of

Ms. Farley's book-length report, "Prostitution

and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the

Connections." It's being published online today.

The report explores what Oscar Goodman doesn't

appear to understand: the horrendous toll that

prostitution, legal or illegal, takes on the

women and girls involved. If you peel back the

thin, supposedly sexy veneer of the commercial

sex trade, you'll quickly see the rotten inside,

where females are bought, sold, raped, beaten,

shamed and in many, many cases, physically and

emotionally wrecked.

Start with the fact that so many of those who are

pulled into the trade are so young - early-20s,

late-teens and younger. Child prostitutes by the

hundreds pass through the Family Division

courtroom of Judge William Voy, who views the

hapless, vulnerable girls as victims and tries to

help them. The girls he sees are as young as 12,

with the average age being 14.

He told me about a 14-year-old who was seven

months pregnant by her pimp. She was suffering

from a sexually transmitted disease, had a drug

problem, was undernourished and still craved a

relationship with the pimp. "These cases will

tear your heart out," the judge said.

Ms. Farley was asked to study the Nevada sex

trade and its consequences 2 1Ž2 years ago by

John Miller, who at the time headed the U.S.

State Department's effort to fight human

trafficking around the world. Prostitution is

legal in some parts of Nevada but not in Vegas,

where 90 percent of the state's prostitution

occurs. Vegas is a world-class embarrassment to

any U.S. official attempting to reduce

prostitution and trafficking in foreign countries.

"We did surveys of people on the street," said

Ms. Farley, "and nearly half thought prostitution

was legal in Las Vegas. Guess why that is?

Massive advertising."

There are more than 150 pages of ads in the Las

Vegas yellow pages for "college teens," "mature

women," "mothers and daughters," "petite Japanese

women," "Chinese teens in short skirts" and every

other variation imaginable. I asked Mayor Goodman

about that, and he said: "We've changed that a

little bit. They used to have pictures."

Sex clubs with teenage girls dancing nude and

offering lap dances to johns are legal,

ubiquitous and widely advertised. Many of those

girls are either prostitutes or one short step


What is not widely understood is how coercive all

aspects of the sex trade are. The average age of

entry into prostitution is extremely young. The

prostitutes are ruthlessly controlled by pimps,

club owners and traffickers. In the case of legal

prostitution, they are controlled by their own

pimps and the brothel owners - pimps who have

been legalized by the state.

The women are exploited in every way. Most of the

money they receive from johns goes to the pimps,

the brothel owners, the escort service managers

and so forth. Strippers and lap dancers have to

pay for the right to dance in the clubs, and the

money they get in tips has to be shared with the

club owners, bartenders, bouncers, etc.

Huge numbers of foreign women are trafficked into

Vegas. The legions of Asian women in the massage

parlors and escort services did not come flocking

to Vegas from suburban U.S.A.

Mayor Goodman said that he is no fan of illegal

prostitution, but is convinced the legal variety

could be a boon. He is proud of his city's

tourist slogan: "What happens here, stays here."

Back in the '90s, Las Vegas tried hard to promote a family-friendly image.

"That ended when I became mayor," said Mr. Goodman.