I wanted to follow up on the Russian human trafficking story
that unfolded here in 2010.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders to MetaFilter-Related at 9:33 AM (251 comments total)
165 users marked this as a favorite
As a few of you might know I am the mayor of the town I live in. It's a very bucolic, sleepy small town, or as much as you can be five miles from the Philly line. Anyway we have had an "Asian massage parlor" in our town going back decades, with occasional prostitution arrests, etc. For some reason the business was able to keep a low profile, and many residents weren't aware of it. Those that were came to believe, I think, that there was either no will or no way to get it shut down. It was kind of "wink-wink-nudge-nudge" accepted. I was as guilty as anyone.
About six months into my term I followed along with the rest of you while the Russian thread unfolded here on Metafilter, and it really got me thinking about the lives of the women working at our thriving little business, whether they might be there involuntarily, and what, if anything I could do about it in my position. They were rarely seen outside and seemed to live at the business. And I have two daughters. So I followed some of the links in the Russian thread and learned more about the AMP model of human trafficking. I got to know the good folks at Polaris Project, and began to explore with my colleagues what a very financially limited, litigation-averse municipality might do about this.
I enlisted the support of some other community leaders, educated officials & residents about the business and about human trafficking in general, and helped focus everybody on the implications of this business for the women there and for our community. Very long story short, this week we were finally able to issue the order to close down the business, and are now working with social services agencies to see if they can somehow prevent the outcome of these women being moved to another AMP.
I know that in the big picture what we accomplished took forever, was pretty minor, and human trafficking will chug along like it always has, but I wanted the MeFi community to be aware that it was in fact the original Metafilter post that started a whole chain of events that ended this horrible exploitative practice at least in our community. I was very proud of my town when last night, after we announced at a council meeting that the business would finally be shut down, one of the first questions from the audience was "What will happen to the women?" That right there was Metafilter.
So, long after the fact, thanks for opening my eyes and inspiring me to open the eyes of many others.