My name is Jody Williams. I'm the founder of the 12 step program “Prostitutes Anonymous” which I created in 1987. We later renamed ourselves “Sex Workers Anonymous” in 1995 for two main reasons. The first being the invention of the internet. This created members coming to us for help who were working in the sex industry – while not being prostitutes having intercourse for money. Also, because many of the male and transgender members, as well as our pimps and madams who belonged to our program felt the title “Prostitutes Anonymous” was too restrictive.
The legal brothel industry has the prostitutes – but they also employ managers or madams, along with security, maids, cooks, even the health care workers who run their health checks are in jobs that are connected directly to the sex industry.
So my position is that the sex industry, of which prostitution is but one component, is just that – an industry. One of the biggest mistakes I see people who focus strictly upon the tiny segment of the sex industry that are females who sell physical intercourse for an hourly rate in regions where it's illegal to do so is to consider that one can do something having only an impact upon the sex industry as a whole while only focusing upon that tiny segment of it. That would be as effective as saying that I'm going to wipe out the whole jewelry industry by only shutting down jewelry stores at malls. We all know that the jewelry industry is connected to the mining field, as well as those who design the jewelry, and even those industries that buy poor quality diamonds to make drills with. In other words, one can not address an whole industry while only focusing on one tiny little segment within it.
I honestly think I'm in a position to call that opinion an “expert” opinion also. For one thing, I worked in every area of the sex industry while I was within it during the years 1979 to 1985. The best count I could give as to the number of actual “tricks” I've turned during those years was over 10,000 – both male and female I'd like to point out. Within this industry I saw both male and females pimps, as well as male and female traffickers, male and female providers, as well as male and female clients.
I opened the first ever hotline for adults in the USA to have anyone, male or female, call for help to leave any part of the sex industry, whether they felt they were “trafficked” or not in 1987. The Polaris National Trafficking Hotline was not launched until the year 2002. The last report I read stated they'd answered 100,000 phone calls whereas my estimates in going over my phone records show I've personally answered over 500,000 phone calls to our hotline since our launch.
I run the oldest and largest program for adults, again male and female, who are leaving the sex industry in any form for any reason. Whether that person feels they're leaving because they were “forced” to be in the industry, or whether they don't – we have been a part in some way of the largest number of people exiting the sex industry within this country.
Over a broader geographic, cultural, and religious span I'd like to add. I say that because the people we work with come from any, and no, religions. We have worked with Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Pagans, atheists and even members of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” who signify their membership by wearing a coriander on their heads when taking their DMV photos. The members we have worked with have been convicted of felonies – which I understand some of the programs listed in this brief refuse to work with. Some of our members have severe mental illnesses, as well as very serious health issues such as being HIV positive for example.
Again, something I understand some of the programs listed in this brief do not work with – however we do. We currently have chapters, and members, of our program all across this country from coast to coast, border to border, and into Canada, as well as five other countries. Our members are not only employed within the legal and illegal job duties within the sex industry – but we also work with “legal” and “illegal” citizens of the USA, as well as within other countries such as Australia where they also have “illegal aliens” in this country who may be employed within the kega or illegal sex industry in some fashion.
Does this mean we “approve” of this industry? While abortion is legal – I am willing to venture that there are many who do not “approve” of this industry. In fact, some people find it downright horrific. The same for the executioner who executes the ceasing of life in the inmate who has just received the death sentence. He has to flip that switch, or push that button, in a profession where many people have strong opposition in fact to the death penalty. Some even call it downright murder. But whether we “approve” of this or not – it's still an industry. The fact we don't approve of it doesn't change that it is in fact a job for someone.
Just as the writers of this brief have taken a quote from my story, from my book, without giving me the respect of asking me first if they could do so, without buying the book from me even that was quoted, without acknowledging the program that this book is connected to (the AA “Big Book” for example is a part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program yet I don't see any mention made here of my book being a part of Sex Workers Anonymous nor is SWA listed in their list of groups that work with domestic sex trafficking victims), taking what I said completely out of the context I meant it in to try and support their agenda without any concern whatsoever for the damaging consequences said quote is going to have upon myself personally nor our program.
Take the Survivors Connect Network was one example. That group at one time had set up a forum where they were telling members that I was ACTIVELY working as a “pimp” a few years ago. Anyone who defended me was excluded from the group and shunned. When I served them with a “cease and desist” letter threatening them with a defamation case – they tore the whole forum down but never issued an apology.