ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — While Rockford Police work to arrest the suspects facing prostitution charges connected to two Midtown District lingerie shops, those against sexual exploitation question how to help the victims.
Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (RAASE) is a local organization dedicated to ending the demand for sexual exploitation in the Stateline.
28 individuals have been accused of 80 charges in connection with a prostitution investigation into two Rockford lingerie shops. Advocates say while Tuesday’s announcement is a win in their fight, the road to recovery is just beginning for the women involved.
“To be able to make that kind of contact and arrest 28 perpetrators of the sex trafficking trade is a major accomplishment,” said RAASE director of the board David Gill.
However, RAASE said the work isn’t done just yet.
“By the time an operation or sting, like this, happens, often times, those young ladies have been in the business for years,” said Gill. “What ends up happening is that they begin to suffer traumas.”
Advocates say many times prostitution ring leaders take advantage of those who are homeless or struggling financially.
“A trafficker is very good at providing them with a pathway to this sort of a situation,” said Manager of the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention Jennifer Cacciapaglia.
Some younger girls are lured in with false promises of modeling deals or a glamorous experience.
“Where these young girls, from this community Rockford, Illinois, have gotten tickets, verified plane tickets,” said Gill. “Except that because of their age and inexperience never looked at it to see that the plane ticket was a one way ticket.”
RAASE offers survivors a variety of services.
Those services include providing food and clothing, drug and alcohol detox, finding them long term housing or even relocating them elsewhere if they wish, among others.
“These survivors in this work are not the criminals,” said Cacciapaglia. “They don’t hold the blame and shame. Its the people who are around them, the purchasers and traffickers, who need to bear responsibility for these crimes.”
The 27 men accused in the case are still wanted by Rockford Police.
Advocates say one of the best solutions to this type of crime is to keep the pressure on those buying sex or trafficking sex.
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