Fighting the Demand with Val Ritchey

Val Ritchey is King County’s Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and he’s fighting trafficking starting with the demand.

He told us a story about a 15 year old girl who was selling sex out of her parents house while they were away. The girl had a man come over for sex, stole his money and shut the door on him. The cops were called and came. They ended up returning the mans money and arresting the 15 year old girl. The man went free. Industry is driven by demand and by failing to prosecute the people generating demand for commercial sex we are failing to properly combat the problem.

Ritchey pointed out that in order to help fight demand we need to educate the public about the myths surrounding the act of prostitution. Most people who buy sex think the person selling it is making the choice to do so for themselves. The reality of course is that the prostitute is being forced into the act.

The language involved in prostitution cases casts blame on the seller and not the buyer, this needs to change. Prostitutes are actually victims and “John” are actually exploiters.

Finally criminals will be less likely to buy commercial sex if faced with harsh punishments, being labeled a sex offender and public shaming.