The Realities Of The American Sex Trade

Download Audio

A former prostitute is trying to help young women escape the sex trade in the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota.  We’ll talk to her, and look at the big picture of sex trafficking in the USA.

Windie Lazenko, founder and CEO of 4her ND, is a former sex worker who now leads efforts to help women in the trade break out of the business. (4her ND / AP)
Windie Lazenko, founder and CEO of 4her ND, is a former sex worker who now leads efforts to help women in the trade break out of the business. (4her ND / AP)

Windie Lazenko was a young teen when she was sold for the first time.  For sex. Not in a faraway land, but in the USA.  Now she’s out of the trade, and campaigning against a surge in sex trafficking in the Bakken oil field boom in North Dakota.  But the problem is very much a national problem. A bill in the US Senate would help, but it’s hung up in a fight over abortion. Meanwhile, local communities say they’re overwhelmed by the problem.  The young and vulnerable, especially, trapped and trafficked for sex. This hour On Point:  Sex trafficking in the US now, with a woman who’s been there.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Windie Lazenko, executive director and founder of 4her North Dakota. Former sex worker. Member of the National Survivor Network. (@4HerND)

Bridgette Carr, director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D-ND), US Senator from North Dakota. (@senatorheitkamp)

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press: Former sex trade worker fighting trafficking in oil patch -- "For nearly two decades, Lazenko was part of that illicit world, starting as a 13-year-old runaway when, she says, she was bought and sold for sex. Prostitution, pornography and strip clubs followed. Then she walked away from it all. She eventually moved to Montana and a few years ago, while counseling at-risk girls, she began hearing about young women being recruited for prostitution in the Bakken oilfields. She wanted to help."

New Republic: Above the Law, Under the Sheets — "Last spring, a police sergeant in Arkansas's second-biggest city, Fort Smith, noticed an affidavit that a colleague had submitted after making a prostitution arrest. The document states that the suspect met the cop at a motel, where she advised him to 'get comfortable' (i.e., strip). She accepted $150 from him, then rubbed his back and chest with lotion for a half-hour before, in the words of the affidavit, 'she began rubbing lotion on my penis and masturbating me.' The undercover cop then identified himself and arrested her for prostitution."

POLITICO: How abortion politics scuttled a human-trafficking bill — "It’s a cause any politician would have a hard time opposing: cracking down on human trafficking. Instead, in a breakdown sensational even by Senate standards, a bill to address the issue is set to go down in a partisan firefight. The cause of the row? Democrats didn’t read the 68-page bill to discover its provisions dealing with abortion, and Republicans didn’t disclose the abortion language when Democratic staffers asked them for a summary of the legislation."

National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888 (or text 233-733)

This program aired on March 16, 2015.


More from On Point

Listen Live