By chilling the demand for sex buying, we chill the economic incentives for sex trafficking

By seeding undercover operations in this way, the city will make the work more dangerous, she argues. “The end result of stings is they drive it further underground and make it more difficult for people to screen clients or have any kind of open discussion about what’s going to happen during the session,” she said. “You remove bargaining power in terms of the sex worker.”

This view is echoed by several high-profile health and human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the World Health Organization. In 2016, Amnesty International called for an “immediate cessation” of the Nordic, end-demand approach. “Amnesty International has found evidence of human rights abuses against people who sell sex in Norway that are compounded by and, in some cases, directly caused by the legal framework,” concluded its 2016 report.

In a 2015 Seattle Times op-ed, City Attorney Pete Holmes pushed back on Amnesty International’s conclusion. “Decriminalization supports the very root of sex trafficking, which exists for one reason only: to supply the demand for commercial sex. ”

Similarly, Debra Boyer, the former Director of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors told the Stranger last year, “You don’t get to buy people. … [Prostitution] is just something that is not consensual. It always starts with some form of coercion.”

Right now this law is on the books

LeMoon does not argue for full legalization of prostitution, but does want to see the city decriminalize it by greatly limiting penalties. “Most sex workers want decriminalization,” she said. “They don’t want the regulation from the state but we want to have the penalties removed.”

Several men caught in the operation have already pled guilty, while other cases are still in their pre-trial phase and will unfold over the next several months.

The Seattle Police Department declined to speculate whether it would conduct more, similar operations. For Harris in the City Attorney’s Office, the wireclub broader questions of whether prostitution should be decriminalized and how to approach the Barbie’s Dollhouse cases are two separate things. “I think that’s just a philosophical discussion about whether people think prostitution should be legal or not,” he said. “That’s a discussion for another day. ”

Danielle Malcolm, appellate specialist with the City Attorney’s Office, put it another way: “It’s definitely not a situation where we can say, ‘oh we’re going to decide to do something different.’ We’re just working with the model we have and doing the best we can.”

Correction: A previous version of this article said Debra Boyer was the Executive Director of the Organization for Prostitution Survivors. She is the former Executive Director.

Meanwhile, the Barbie’s Dollhouse cases proceed

The 11700 block of Aurora Avenue North in Seattle, near where the city conducted its latest sting. (Photo by Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

It started with an ad on the website Backpage: “Barbie’s Doll House Massage & Spa Grand Opening.” Posted in , the notice made no mention of sex, but there were clues that indicated something more than massage was being offered: women in tight shirts lined up underneath a pink-hued banner featuring the silhouette of a model, like those seen on a trucker’s mud flaps. This grand opening was to happen somewhere in North Seattle – call for the address.

But the ad, posted on a site that knowingly allowed users to advertise prostitution, was not really for a newly opened brothel either. It was, rather, the bait in a police sting, the second in as many years from the Seattle Police Department. The first, known as the Euro Spa operation, ended in the arrests of over 200 men in 2016. Barbie’s Dollhouse would be round two.

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