Portland Strikes Out Against Human Trafficking

Portland, Maine Police Sgt. Tim Farris was troubled by reaction to a Kennebunk prostitution case. “People were laughing and joking about it. I don’t know that case, but there are thousands of people in the country who are being forced into prostitution … and it really diminishes their struggles if you portray it as this girl out making a few dollars for herself,” Farris said. “It’s a very serious violent problem, human trafficking, we were concerned this case would water it down so to speak. That people wouldn’t fully understand it, that it would be a detriment to the work that we’re doing.”

Farris is part of the Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation, a group of 53 or more members that includes law enforcement, local and federal, and service providers. The coalition is developing a community educational outreach program. Maine lacks a human trafficking statute, something the coalition hopes to see changed.

For Farris said sex trafficking is no laughing matter. “It ruins people’s lives, it ruins families lives, it really can destroy a community,” he said of sex trafficking. Farris said a “victim centered approach” is a new way of viewing prostitution. “It’s all driven by the clients, definitely, instead of looking at it as a crime of a female making money to commit a sex act, we know that’s very seldom the case, there’s someone else profiting from her,” he said. “These guys are driving an industry, the sex trade industry, that’s very damaging to people’s lives,” Farris said of the traffickers. Farris pointed to a nationwide “paradigm shift of looking at exploited women as victims. It’s a very different way of looking at it,” he said.

Learn more at David Carkhuff’s Portland Daily Sun article: Portland coalition strikes at Sex Trafficking.

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