- The Washington Times - Friday, January 21, 2000

The horror stories of young girls lured or sold by their parents into a life of forced prostitution through businessmen in Thailand or criminal mafias in Russia are repelling enough. But the State Department estimates that 50,000 of the 2 million women and children said by activists to be trafficked internationally every year into prostitution could be in the United States. And the Clinton administration, not wanting to step on any prostitution-friendly countries' toes, just can't bring itself to support making all prostitution illegal. Interestingly, leading the effort for lending legitimacy to some forms of prostitution is the president's Interagency Council on Women, with Hillary Rodham Clinton as the honorary chair.

This new low for the Clinton administration is enough to get even the feminists up in arms. So much so that Patricia Ireland of the National Organization for Women, Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood and Gloria Steinem, among others, wrote President Clinton declaring their disapproval. In this they have joined forces with conservative and Christian organizations who are likewise appalled.

Apparently the pressure is working. A U.N. subcommittee working on the sex trafficking protocol to the U.N. Convention on Transnational Organized Crime was originally scheduled to vote on the protocol in Vienna Jan. 17, the Wall Street Journal reported. But the date came and went with no news out of Vienna. On Thursday, the United Nations told The Washington Times: "The Convention and its Protocols are still under negotiations. The Ad Hoc Committee charged with these negotiations has been asked by the General Assembly to complete its work by the end of 2000."

The end of 2000? This will not be the quick and easy vote the administration had hoped for. The administration makes the new sex trafficking language, which talks about "forced prostitution," sound harmless. This would just "focus" the scope of crime prevention, it argues. But the new language would actually open the door for more crime.

"Right now if you traffic across international borders women and girls for the purpose of prostitution you're an international criminal," Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission told The Washington Times. "If the Clinton administration has its way, the trafficking only becomes a crime if the trafficking is done against the women's will."

This would shift the focus from the traffickers to the victims, and courts would have to decide whether the woman was under duress to sign consent forms to partake in the prostitution. This process would assume that some forms of prostitution do not objectify women, essentially making the practice legal. It would also allow traffickers to continue their business while courts go through the motions of analyzing the women's motives.

"There's a reason why virtually all the G-77 [a coalition that acts in the name of developing countries for the United Nations] countries opposed this change," said Mr. Land, who along with Chuck Colson of Prison Fellowship Ministries, wrote Mrs. Clinton expressing his concern for the administration's position. "The reason is, they understand it is their women and their girls who will be trafficked across international borders for the purposes of prostitution. What we're talking about here is sexual imperialism and sexual colonialism on the part of developed nations of world in using the women and girls of the second and third world for their sexual gratification."

The Clinton administration's proposal would make a practice associated with abuse, coercion and denigration of women a mere voluntary career choice. It would make what has been considered internationally to be a crime perfectly legal.

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