Press Release: Action Network to use RNC and Minnesota State Fair to Bring Attention to Problem of Sex Trafficking

We are pleased to present this press release and fact sheet from the Action Network to End Sexual Exploitation in Minnesota

Press Release

For Immediate Release
August 29, 2008
Contacts: Suzanne Koepplinger 612.728.2008
Carla Ferrucci 651.646.6177 ex 27

Action Network to use RNC and Minnesota State Fair
to bring attention to problem of sex trafficking

ST. PAUL, MN – Using the Republican National Convention and the Minnesota State Fair as a backdrop the Action Network to End Sexual Exploitation in Minnesota (ANESEM) announced today the launch of a public awareness campaign to draw attention to the devastating effects of sex trafficking and prostitution. The Action Network, a grassroots coalition of survivors, community activists, state government and non-profit agencies committed to ending sexual exploitation in Minnesota, hopes to confront the unique atmosphere of these large events that often increases the rate of sexual exploitation. Awareness materials will be distributed by volunteers at the Minnesota State Fair, the Republican National Convention, and as part of the Sgt. Jerry Vick Regional Human Trafficking Conference September 23 and 24 at St. Paul’s River Centre.

A similar effort was launched by a sister collaboration in Denver during the Democratic National Convention. (Additional information on the Colorado and Minnesota campaigns available at this site:

“Sex trafficking and prostitution are significant problems in Minnesota, and are far from victim-less crimes,” said Suzanne Koepplinger, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center and a member of the collaboration. “Our goal is raise the level of knowledge about the realities of this victimization and engage individuals in stopping the demand.”

The campaign’s goal is to humanize victims of sex trafficking and prostitution while at the same time making sure offenders are held accountable. “As a direct service provider I see how devastating this crime is to its victims,” said Beth Jacobs, public policy coordinator for Breaking Free, an agency whose mission is to help women and girls escape prostitution and sex trafficking. “Although it is important to raise awareness we also have a commitment to providing services to victims, holding perpetrators accountable, and changing public opinion to focus less on blaming victims and more on prevention.”

Flyers and posters were developed by a local ad agency Martin Williams, whose pro bono work for the Not For Sale Campaign was adapted for this initial launch. “We hope that this campaign will help to tell the story of what happens to these victims in a way that dissuades people from soliciting victims of sex trafficking, but that also engages citizens to implement concrete steps to stop human trafficking,” said Jim Henderson, executive vice president group creative director. The flyers and posters look like a sales receipt and picture a young woman along with a short fictional account based on real stories from victims of human trafficking.

The Human Trafficking Conference will feature national leaders on the issue of human trafficking from Federal and State agencies, including members of the Action Network. The conference culminates a month of activities to raise awareness about trafficking and will also coincide with the release of a new state report on human trafficking.

With over 30 endorsements of state departments, political leaders, associations, organization and individuals the Action Network is laying the ground work for an ongoing effort. “This is the beginning of a public and private partnership,” Jacobs said. “While we hope to raise awareness, this is also a call to action.”

“Victim advocates and law enforcement agencies have been working tirelessly to raise awareness and create collaborative solutions to the problem of sexual exploitation and human trafficking,” Koepplinger said. “This campaign is launched to increase the public’s awareness of sex trafficking and prostitution, gain their interest in learning what can be done to combat it, and assist those who are rescued from the bondage of modern day slavery.”



AWARENESS Buying people for sex is a SERIOUS problem in Minnesota.


The average age of entry into prostitution is 12­-years­-old.

8,000 to 12,000 people are involved in prostitution and sex trafficking in Minnesota every day.

In a North Minneapolis research project on prostitution and sex trafficking, 56% of people involved had their first experience in prostitution or sex trafficking as a juvenile (under age 18). Studies in other US cities found similar figures (Chicago, 62%; San Francisco, 78%).

While definitions of prostitution and sex trafficking vary, the root causes and traumatic outcomes for victims are the same.

SAFETY: Prostitution and sex trafficking harm victims and are NOT victimless crimes. Support safety & services for victims.


90% of people used in prostitution want to leave immediately and need a safe way out.

Runaway, homeless, abused and at­-risk children are approached by pimps and drug dealers within 48 hours of landing on the streets.

Women who have been used in prostitution and sex trafficking have a mortality rate 200 times higher for women who have not been used in prostitution and sex trafficking.

Rates of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse are very high among people involved in prostitution and sex trafficking. In North Minneapolis, 84% have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse sometime in their lives; 56% experienced all three forms of violence.

Prostitution and sex trafficking causes many health problems, including higher rates than the general population of cancer (particularly cervical); chronic disease; pelvic inflammatory disease; traumatic brain injury and more.

ACCOUNTABILITY Purchasing people for sex is a crime, johns must be held accountable.


Prostitution and sex trafficking affects not only how men think about women; it also influences their actual behavior toward women, including sexual aggression towards women who are not prostituted/trafficked. In a recent study on men’s use of prostituted or trafficked women in Scotland, 54% of men who frequently purchased women for sex had committed sexually aggressive acts against non­-prostituted/trafficked women.

Of 140 men arrested for soliciting a prostituted/trafficked person in Minnesota; 33% showed significant psychopathology when psychologically tested.

Several studies indicate that, like pimps, purchasers regularly assault women and girls in prostitution and sex trafficking.

STOP THE DEMAND You can help stop the demand. You can help stop the purchase of people for sex.


Educate and protect children from the dangers of online recruitment by predators. Play an active role in monitoring their activity online and report any suspicious behavior.

Support community-based services that help women and girls escape prostitution and sex trafficking.

Encourage health care providers to identify and provide initial assistance to victims of human trafficking. Current screening tools utilized to assess for domestic and sexual violence can be amended to include additional questions. Guidelines for such questions can be found at (

Challenge social structures that normalize prostitution and sex trafficking. Challenge laws that criminalize prostituted women and children.

Support policies which require johns to attend Breaking Free’s john School or similar programs.

Ask that companies not contract or use the services of travel agents, hotels, and other hospitality services that offer adult entertainment, engage in sex tourism or other similarly exploitive practices.

Encourage tourism, travel, and hospitality companies to educate employees regarding sexual exploitation, human traffick
ing, sex tourism and prostitution and design policies to protect women and children from sexual exploitation.

Ask tourism, travel, and hospitality companies to educate travelers by providing information through catalogs, brochures, in­flight videos and websites regarding the sexual exploitation of women and children by emphasizing the harm caused to victims and the need to hold johns accountable.

Take a stand to end the sexual exploitation of women and children by challenging the normalization of sex trafficking, pimping and prostitution.

Take a stand by challenging men who use pornography, and men who solicit women and children on­line, in strip clubs, on the street, or through brokers, pimps and sex traffickers.

*This information is compiled from a number of resources including Project to End Human Trafficking, Prostitution Research and Education Center, Breaking Free & The National Center on Missing and Exploited Children


Adults Saving Kids

Breaking Free

Center for Women, Economic Justice and Public Policy, College of St. Catherine

Justice Commission of the Sisters of St. Joseph and Consociates

Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women

Minnesota Department of Health

Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center

Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition

Minnesota Men’s Action Network

Not For Sale Campaign

Pride Program of Children and Family Services

Sexual Offense Services of Ramsey County

Women of Nations

Women of Senate District 67


As of August 28, 2008

Minnesota Congressional Delegation

Congressman Keith Ellison

Congresswomen Betty McCollum

Congressman Jim Ramstad

Minnesota State Senate

Senator Warren Limmer

Senator Mee Moua

Senator Sandra Pappas

Senator Patricia Torres Ray

Minnesota State House of Representatives

Representative Michael Paymar

Representative Sheldon Johnson


Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman

Minneapolis City Council Member Betsy Hodges

Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan

St. Paul

St. Paul City Council

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman

St. Paul Police Chief John Harrington

Ramsey County

Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner

Ramsey County Commissioner Toni Carter

Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough

Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega

Ramsey County Commissioner Jan Parker ­Chair

Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt

Minnesota State Departments

Commissioner Michael Campion ­Minnesota Department of Public Safety

Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan ­Minnesota Department of Health

Associations, Organizations & Individuals

Former US Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger

Minnesota Alliance on Crime

Minnesota Women’s Consortium

National Association to Prevent the Sexual Abuse of Children

Soroptimist International – of Greater Minneapolis



See also:

Gloria Steinem at Smith: Cooperation, Not Domination
are more slaves in proportion to the world’s population–more people
held by force or coercion without benefit from their work–more now
than there were in the 1800s. Sex trafficking, labor trafficking,
children and adults forced into armies: they all add up to a global
human-trafficking industry that is more profitable than the arms trade,
and second only to the drug trade. The big difference now from the
1800s is that the United Nations estimates that 80% of those who are
enslaved are women and children…

Investigates Human Trafficking and Prostitution in the US; Valley
Advocate Advertises “Foreign Fantasies” Where “Everything Goes”

While MSNBC is busy investigating the sex industry, the Valley Advocate
is busy making money from it. The Massage/Escort ads in the 1/10/08
edition below include an advertisement of “FOREIGN FANTASIES” where
“Everything Goes”. The acronym GFE presumably stands for “girl friend
experience”, which MSNBC says can mean “sex without condoms”.

Diane Sawyer Special Examines Prostitution in America; Challenge the Valley Advocate “Rat King”
From the March 20 Valley Advocate and The Back Room (explicit link):

[Adult] Employment
VERY VERY BUSTY FEMALE NEEDED Marketing Professional Hiring For Escort
Work No Experience Required Help Reduce My Stress VERY WELL ENDOWED In Need Of Oral Relief Our Privacy Assured 860-258-xxxx…

If you object to the Advocate profiting from and promoting one of the world’s most exploitative industries, let Tom Vannah and Aaron Julien (413-584-5000) know.

Escort Prostitution: A Response to Tom Vannah, Editor of the Valley Advocate

Belltown Messenger: “Greed, Lust and Ink”
only motivation for running escort ads in the first place is unbridled
greed-and these supposedly liberal publications can’t have it both ways
when defending the rights of society’s underdogs in their editorial

“New York Press No Longer Marketing Arm for Prostitution/Trafficking”

Another Victory for NOW-NYC: New York Magazine Drops Sex Ads
One would think that this would be exactly the kind of exploitation the
[Village] Voice would revel in exposing. But because the Voice is free, it
apparently needs the revenue brought in by, this week, 10 pages of
these ads.

And so its press release yammers on about how our
freedoms are “under attack by the Bush administration,” and makes NOW
sound like the Taliban, and finally trots out the same pathetic excuse
New York once made: “If there is evidence that any advertiser in our
pages engaged in…sex slavery…” Blah blah blah.

It’s hard to be part of the solution, when you’re part of the problem.

Newsweek: “A School for Johns”
[Says San Francisco’s district attorney, Kamala D. Harris,] “To suggest
that this is somehow an issue that only involves consensual adults,
that’s just not true. No matter how these girls and women are packaged
for sale, the reality is that for many of them, their life experience
is often wrought with abuse and exploitation,” says Harris…

Pornography Trains and Indoctrinates Prostitutes
a study of 475 people in prostitution (including women, men, and the
transgendered) from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey,
USA, and Zambia)…92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution

Prostitution looks chic, but truth is ugly (Chicago Tribune, 4/27/08)
A comprehensive 2004 mortality study, funded by the National Institutes
of Health and conducted by the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows
that workplace homicide rates for women working in prostitution are 51
times that of the next most dangerous occupation for women (which is
working in a liquor store). The average age of death of the women
studied was 34.

Prostitution: Factsheet on Human Rights Violations (explicit language)

In one study, 75% of women in escort prostitution had attempted
suicide. Prostituted women comprised 15% of all completed suicides
reported by hospitals…

News Roundup: Age of Entry into Prostitution Declining

New York Times: The Girls Next Door; Worldwide Sex Trafficking; Role of Porn

Realities of Teen Prostitution Mock Notions of ‘Sex
Work’, ‘Sex-Positive’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Empowerment’; Media Glamorizes Pimps

Salon: Atlanta’s underage sex trade

Strip Clubs: Dancers Pay to Work There
…the girls who work there, the dancers…pay $150 to $200 a shift for
the privilege of working… I asked one guy in the business, “What’s
the biggest risk to your business model?” He said if the
government stops immigration from Eastern Europe.

New Book – Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the

“Trade – A Film Brings Sex Trafficking Home”

The New Yorker: “The Countertraffickers”

Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

A Closer Look at Sweden’s Success with Reducing Prostitution; Skeptics Rebutted
In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence
against women and children. The underlying rationale to reverse a
legalisation approach was that prostitution, like all forms of violence
against women, constitutes a barrier to gender equality. Since moving
towards gender equality is a fundamental priority for Sweden, logically
its policy must be based on an approach that seeks to end prostitution,
rather than manage/legitimise it…

The government also recognised that criminalising demand without
support for the women themselves, would be not only ineffective but
also unfair, therefore monies were made available to NGOs and statutory
agencies for drug rehabilitation programmes, exit strategies and longer
term reintegration…

Since 1999 street prostitution in Stockholm has dropped by more than
two-thirds. Before the law, between 350 and 400 prostituted women were
working the streets in Stockholm…

One important aspect of the new legislation, which is seldom recognised
outside Sweden, is that the women and children in prostitution are not
criminalised; rather they are viewed as victims of a crime. This not
only changes their legal status, but how they are seen and treated by

Several opinion polls, conducted in 2000 and 2001, show that
approximately 80 per cent of the Swedish population supports the law.
Of those who want to repeal it, the majority are men, with only seven
per cent of women in support…