oldest profession, or oldest oppression …

The majority of prostitutes are not in the business for fun.  The reality is that virtually all of them have experienced sexual abuse as children and, as adults, have a perverted view that they are now the powerful ones as they can now choose with whom they have sex.   I know, it’s hard to make sense of this because it doesn’t make sense.  This kind of thinking is what keeps victims stuck in their dysfunctional behaviors.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse who end up as prostitutes just go in and out of the system, but finally a judge in Franklin County, Ohio – of all places – is finding a way to help a few women get off the streets and gain their lives back.   He is helping give them back the dignity that was stolen from them as children.  When these women come together to live in community and support one another, lives change.  I’ve always thought that women support each other in remarkable ways, and that the ones who have had the most taken from them are usually the ones who are most willing to give everything they have to help each other.   I see those women in every group I’ve held for victims of abuse.  Heroines, every one of them.

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This article was re-blogged from Christianity Today:

In 2008, Paul Herbert was using Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life to disciple his teenage daughters on Sunday evenings. They weren’t enjoying it much. One night, they turned the tables on him. “One asked me, ‘Daddy, what’s yourpurpose in life?’ ”

“That really got me,” says the Municipal Court Judge of Franklin County, Ohio. He gave a vague answer about being “a light on the bench,” but that night, he prayed candidly to God. “I said, ‘God, I realize that being a judge is a very unique position. Not many people get this opportunity. Can you show me some way that I could be significant for you in my work?’ ”

About nine months later, Herbert, 51, was presiding in arraignment court. A typical procession of domestic violence victims passed before him. “A woman will come in, and she’ll have these bright red marks around her neck. Clumps of her hair will be pulled out, maybe she’ll have a puffy eye or a broken jaw—it’s horrible.” After seeing several of these women, the sheriff brought a prostitute before him. “She looked exactly like one of those victims that I’d been seeing,” Herbert recounts. It shook up his categories.

Soon after, Herbert began researching the criminology of prostitution. What he learned stunned him. “Around 87 percent of these women are sexually abused, typically starting at around age 8,” he explains. “They start using drugs to deal with that trauma around age 12.” The girls run away from home or foster care and are dragged by predatory pimps into the commercial sex trade. “They are not in this lifestyle because they are nymphomaniacs who want to have sex with 15 different men a night.”

Before, Herbert admits, “I would have said that women engaged in prostitution were involved in the world’s oldest profession.” Now he considers it “the world’s oldest oppression.”

Herbert decided to establish a restorative justice program for these women, launching CATCH Court—”Changing Attitudes to Change Habits”—in September 2009 with the support of his colleagues. Traditional treatment and probation had never been successful with this population, Herbert explains. Prostitutes simply cycled in and out of jail. The other judges told him, “If you want to try this experiment, go right ahead.'”

Through the two-year CATCH Court, women are sent to residential rehabilitation programs to detox and receive intensive therapy. Their movements are monitored electronically, they are subject to random drug tests, and they appear before Judge Herbert weekly in the courtroom to report on the progress. “I wish you could see the way they interact with each other,” he says. “They all have each other’s phone numbers, and they call, and they make meals for each other, and if one’s in the hospital, they all go visit her. It’s an amazing community.”

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5 thoughts on “oldest profession, or oldest oppression …

  1. Kudos to this judge – I wonder what the stats are for those who don’t turn back to where they came from? This needs to be publicized so that other judges might pick this up.

  2. I’ve heard about a country – Sweden I think – that successfully fights prostitution by making not the selling, but the buying illegal. It sounds sensible in the light of the above – the buyers got power and freedom to change their habits, the prostitute much less so.

    • Interesting idea …. although I was under the impression that prostitution was legal in Scandinavia. Will have to check it out.

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