Washington is a national leader on human trafficking laws, yet Olympia’s leaders are still ignorant about this issue. This is evident by Mayor Stephen Buxbaum’s response, or lack thereof, to the opening of Olympia’s new strip club.
Research shows that strip clubs are a huge entry point for human trafficking, the fastest-growing criminal industry in the world today. Traffickers find cunning ways to use legal businesses as a front for criminal activity, whether it is forcing a foreign national to strip on a circuit of different clubs or coercing dancers, and even waitresses, to perform beyond stripping.
It is also a risk that Olympia’s new club is located right off Interstate 5, which is recognized by the city as a major trafficking corridor. The writing is on the wall, yet the mayor will not act. This is partly because of his unfamiliarity with this issue. Local women’s groups have tried to educate him, but the mayor refuses to look at the research presented to him.
If we are to effectively eradicate human trafficking, we have to take a holistic approach and recognize that it is not an isolated crime. Most of these victims are hidden in plain sight.
Mayor Buxbaum has said that targeting human trafficking in local communities is a priority. Now, it is time for him to show that he means business. Words are no longer enough.