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USA/Spain: Former Johns take stand against prostitution

Publish Date: 03 May 2011
Source: Fox 9 News
By: Dawn Stevens

MATTOO - Men Against the Trafficking of Others

MINNEAPOLIS - The organization Breaking Free helps women get off the streets. Now, it is joining forces with a new organization that is gathering good men to help stop victimizing women.

It was seven years ago that a man we'll call "Jim" started looking on the streets to buy sex.

"My rationale for it was I was very unhappy in my marriage, I wasn't getting my needs met and this was the alternative I ended up seeking out as a result of that,” Jim said.

In a couple of years his marriage unraveled.

”When my wife at the time caught me and confronted me with it, I started thinking about it, but then also ended up doing some acting out at work, which I ended up losing my job and my career as a result of this kind of acting out,” he said.

His actions on the streets consumed his life.

“I felt like I just hit rock bottom,” Jim said. “I just lost my job, my marriage, everything. I thought I have a problem."

Jim found sex addicts anonymous. In a 12-step program he learned he was out of control, needed support and had to make amends.

"I realized I had wronged many women,” he said. “I was victimizing women with what I was doing."

So now, he speaks with johns caught by St. Paul police who come to a class to clear their record. It's just one aspect of trying to address a man's role in sex trafficking.

The founder of MATTOO or Men Against the Trafficking of Others, Andrew Hanson, wants more men to become a part of the solution, not the problem.

"There's a debate in the movement should men even be involved,” Hanson said. “Mattoo's answer, my answer, yes, we absolutely should be."

Hanson is working with Breaking Free, on a project called Demand Change. In mid-May, men will take a stand at the Capitol by taking a pledge to never victimize a woman, then they will take a symbolic walk toward victims.

"So imagine being a woman who's been trafficked and sexually exploited and seeing hundreds of men,” Hanson. “They're actually standing up to this. How encouraging is that for them?"

The event is also happening in Mijas, Spain where there's a warehouse district and hotels exploiting the world of legal prostitution.

"Right now in Spain there's no housing for trafficking victims, so if you're a victim how are you going to escape?" Hanson said.

Hanson’s goal is to have lawmakers, law enforcement and all men listen and demand change. And Jim is pushing for the same.

"A lot of them are sex addicts whether they admit it to themselves or not, I want to get them the message that there is that resource even if they aren't ready to hear it a seed will be planted,” Jim said.

For more information on the Demand Change Project on May 13th and 14th check out www.breakingfree.net.


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