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Equality Now has just issued Women’s Action 42.1 calling on the U.S. government to implement a government-wide zero tolerance policy on the demand for commercial sex that fuels sex trafficking.
Recently, twenty-four U.S. Secret Service and military personnel on government business in Cartagena, Colombia – a city identified by the U.S. government as a significant sex trafficking and sex tourism destination – allegedly “spent the night boozing and buying women” through a local brothel. Similar allegations have now surfaced regarding secret service agents, military members, and federal employees in Argentina, El Salvador, Brazil, and Russia. News reports continue to emerge that illustrate a persistent culture within the U.S. military and security sectors that allows for the commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.
Sex trafficking is the fastest growing, multi-billion dollar criminal industry. It blatantly degrades and violates the human rights of women and girls worldwide. It is driven by the demand for commercial sex. U.S. nationals contribute to this demand around the world as they make up a large portion of sex tourists to destinations worldwide.
As part of efforts to prevent sex trafficking, the U.S. government is bound by national and international laws, regulations and policies to reduce the demand for commercial sex. The U.S. government falls short of its obligations as it lacks a consistent, uniform, and enforceable legal standard on sex trafficking and purchasing sex that covers the conduct of all government employees and contractors, military and civilian. Equality Now calls on U.S. President Barack Obama to issue an Executive Order prohibiting all federal employees and contractors from buying sex as it contributes to sex trafficking, and to ensure all agency heads strictly enforce such a zero tolerance policy.