by Curtis L. isom, Founder / Editor-In-Chief
This sign was located on a lot between 8th and 9th Streets on 4th Avenue in Moline, Illinois.
Since I took this photo on May 5, 2015, the sign has been replaced, but I feel it’s message does need attention. I’d also like to know from those reading this if you have seen either this sign or one like it in your area. Plus, I’d be interested in knowing if there is anyone else commenting on signs like this.
I like to think there are, but I’m not holding my breath.
First of all, I’m against any sort of human trafficking. Period. But this sign pissed me off when I really took the time to read it. If you’re in the Adult Entertainment Industry and this sign doesn’t piss you off then: 1) You don’t care about anyone but yourself and/or 2) You’re part of the human trafficking network.
If you fall into number (2) above, you’ll have nowhere to hide if I ever find out. That’s a promise.
Anyway, the reason this sign is upsetting is that it makes a “blanket statement” not only about those who go to strip clubs or watch porn, but also about those who work in strip clubs and produce porn. I have shown this picture to a few of my friends in the industry and it pisses them off as well. I have friends in the industry who are as much against human trafficking as I am and they resent being lumped into a single category as this sign states and implies. It implies that all who dance in strips clubs are doing so against their will. It implies that the others in the strip clubs (owners, managers, djs, etc..) are the traffickers. It implies that talent agencies are human traffickers because they bring Feature Entertainers and Porn Stars to the clubs. It implies that those who work in the adult film industry, past and present, are human traffickers because those performing in the films do so under duress. It implies that those who shoot pictures for magazines, online publications, and websites are human traffickers because the models posing are doing so against their will. It also implies that all consumers who buy porn or the customers who visit strip clubs are knowingly partaking in the business of human trafficking.
If you don’t understand this about this sign, then I feel sorry for you.
I have nothing against those who are trying to stop human trafficking, but I am proud to be a part of the Adult Entertainment Industry and resent being lumped into a small group that use this industry for such illegal activity. I have no trouble believing there is a very small minority in the Adult Entertainment Industry that participate in human trafficking. To believe otherwise is nonsense and it is the job of ALL of us in this industry to expose and hold accountable those who partake in such activity. Human traffickers are a blight on this industry (or anywhere for that matter) and give a bad name to those in this industry who love what they do and make a living at doing it.
And my viewpoint isn’t from one sitting on the “sidelines”
I personally know two women who were victims of human trafficking. One was used by a group of child pornographers before she turned 18. Both escaped the trafficking, eventually married, have beautiful children, and are strong women of amazing character. I have nothing but sincere love and admiration for both of them. But not everyone is as lucky as these two ladies and I hope and pray if you ever come across someone who is being a victim of human trafficking that you do what you can to help them get out.
So how does one recognize one who’s a victim of human trafficking? Good question. I think some victims don’t know they are victims, but others are just too obvious to ignore.
If asked what I consider human trafficking to be, I would say it’s mostly where an individual or group are using intimidation tactics and/or force over others in order to get them to do something that they generally wouldn’t. It’s modern day slavery and a good example of such is street prostitution. Here we have pimps who mentally and physically abused people, primarily women, then put them out on the streets to sell their bodies for as much cash as they can. Again, I view these street level pimps as nothing more than slave owners and human traffickers.
Now I know there are those reading this will mention the legal brothels in Nevada and say those are places that deal in human trafficking. I disagree. Why? For the simple fact that these ladies come and go freely working when they want. I’ve met several ladies who work in the Nevada brothels who are happy and travel all over the world working when and where they want. They control their lives and their destiny.
Understand the difference between them and the average street prostitute? If not, let me spell it out for you……F…R…E…E…D…O…M.
Yes, I know there are brothels around the world, even in the United States, where the women are held captive 24/7. I’m not stupid. I also know there are strip clubs here in the U.S. where the women are pimped out by those running the club. I admit I realize in hindsight I’ve been to a couple of these clubs over the years, but didn’t realize what was going on till later on when I was better informed and educated. I also know that those clubs are now closed and people are spending time in jail.
So now I know more of what to look for. And again, I promise you’ll have nowhere to hide if I discover your part of the blight on this industry.
The question now becomes, “What does one look for in identifying human traffickers?” That’s a good one and I admit I don’t have a solid answer for it. Yes, I’m better educated and informed, but human traffickers don’t wear signs identifying themselves. They hide in the shadows where other fear to go unless you’re looking to deal in what they have to sell. But there are those that are brazen enough (or just plain stupid) to come out of the shadows and openly ply their trade. When this happens, then either you’re prepared to do something or you’re not. The choice is always up to us to decide how far we are willing to go to help someone in need. My best advice is to make sure you have gathered enough evidence and proof before you get involved.
Make sure what you suspect is what you think it is, and not something else.
So what to do when you decide to step up and get involved? This is where this sign does some good. There’s a phone number and other contact info which you can use or give to someone who comes to you for help. You can also find out the contact info for your local woman’s shelter. That’s been one of my first places to refer a woman to when I’ve been asked for help. And you can always find out what local law enforcement services are available as well.
You can never be too informed.
I know that not everyone reading this will step up and get involved if called upon. And I know that there are those out there that will just read this and not give a damn. That’s a pity. If you don’t do anything because you’re afraid is one thing. But to not do anything because you know what is going on and turn a blind eye or partake of it, then you’re nothing more than scum.
But I also believe that if one person reading this decides to step up when they are needed to act, then that’s one more standing up against this blight of human traffickers.
And THAT can make a world of difference in someone’s life.