The next key player in the business of trafficking is the customer, otherwise known as the John. The “John” is the person who buys sex - the person who is so driven by his (or her) untamed desires that he no longer sees the humanity in the person from whom he receives his pleasure. He exemplifies the full extent of human selfishness. This is the role in the trafficking system that is very confusing to a lot of us. How could a man find it “normal” or okay to purchase sex from a young woman, let alone a child? But the reality is that if there are millions of girls being sold for sex, then that means there are that many millions more who are in the market to buy the product - especially considering that some girls in the U.S. have up to a dozen “appointments” per day.
The fact of the matter is this: these Johns find it acceptable to buy girls for sex, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. This begs the question, “how does one come to a place where this activity is normal?” Some might cite the old adage that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. While that may hold true to a certain extent, it’s also far more accessible today than ever before. The internet has leveled the playing field across the world. Sites like Craigslist.org and Backpage.com have made these services so easy to find. This also means that no longer is trafficking relegated to the street tracks of large cities. Now, Johns can access girls in small towns and suburbs all over the country. That’s why trafficking cases have been reported in all 50 states.
Another way in which the internet has helped sex trafficking to explode over the past couple of decades is the accessibility of pornography. The first thing to note is the undeniable connection between pornography and sex trafficking. Just because the girl is on the site, it does not mean that she is there voluntarily. One girl we spoke with gave us a detailed description of how she landed herself in sex trafficking. She needed a job and replied to an ad for a modeling gig. She showed up at a big, nice house in the suburbs and they told her that if she took the job, she could move in. So she moved her stuff into the house and within a day she was drugged and filming full on pornography. They brought in man after man, filming the whole thing. From there, they shipped her to another part of the state to work as a prostitute and exotic dancer. So for men who find it normal to use pornography, it is often a natural progression towards soliciting prostitution as they are desensitized to what they have filled their minds with since they were young. The problem with pornography is that it completely removes the humanity from the model on the screen. And that is exactly what happens when a man buys sex - he no longer sees the girl as a human, but as a fix.
A few months ago we spoke with a man who said that he used to be a John. Earlier in his life he was an alcoholic, casual drug user, and sex addict, but he is now healed of his addictions. He told us that he would call girls all of the time and that they lived and worked in his home town (a city of less than 150,000). Because of his untamed desires, this activity became normal for him. But in order for such activity to change, something has to shock a person into realizing that it’s not normal. And that’s what happened. He told us how there was an instance where he was out of town for a football game and called a girl. She came to his hotel room the night before the game and the rest is history. The next day he had a great seat at the game, close to the field. Halftime arrived and two peewee league football teams took the field for a scrimmage. As he looked on, he noticed a lady that he thought he recognized. With that, it hit him: he was watching the girl he had called the night before walk her little boy onto the field with his peewee team. In that moment, the man saw the lady’s humanity, he saw her as a person. To him, she became a mother, a daughter, a sister. Buying sex was no longer normal for him, and he never did it again.
The fact of the matter is that men (and even women) need to see the humanity in the people from whom they are buying sex. They need to understand that the lines are not grey, but that they are, in fact, black and white, and that pornography is a desensitizing evil that eats away at the souls of all parties involved. When the customers in the sex trafficking business begin to realize that it’s not normal, then the demand will be curbed. And when the demand is curbed, the supply will fall, and those who are exploited will find freedom.