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Bellevue prostitution sting evidence of big issue

A law-enforcement guide to human trafficking sits on a table at The Genesis Project on Feb. 27, 2017, a drop-in center for victims of sex trafficking in SeaTac, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
LISTEN: Jason Pamer on Seattle's prostitution industry

If you are shocked at the more than 100 men who were arrested last week during a Bellevue prostitution sting, you shouldn’t be.

“It’s sad,” Jason Pamer told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “It doesn’t shock me. I think that if those raids and stings went on all year, we would see much larger numbers.”

RELATED: Police dragnet busts over 100 ‘johns’ in week-long sting

Pamer is a filmmaker who produced “Rape for Profit,” documenting the Seattle area’s prostitution industry.  Last week’s prostitution sting in Bellevue was the second dragnet in recent time that targeted johns. Police previously took down a massive, high-tech prostitution ring that operated out of a series of luxury Bellevue apartments.

Pamer’s documentary reveals what many in the Puget Sound region do not realize, or want to admit.

“Many of us, when we think about trafficking, we think about these evil, evil men who prey on the most innocent among us,” he said. “That is undoubtedly true in many cases. But they are friends of ours. They are doctors, lawyers, they are pastors, they are teachers.”

Pamer explains that prostitution is a problem throughout the region that can take on different forms. In Seattle, for example, it’s easy to spot prostitution on the streets as many may expect. On the Eastside, however, it runs rampant at condos and upscale hotels.

Still, despite the differences, Pamer argues against the notion and that it’s a profession by choice, noting that the average age a girl enters into prostitution is 13-14 years old.

“Even if you were to see a 22-year-old, who is over the legal age, you might think she’s out there to service an addiction and it’s her choice,” Pamer explains. “No. She’s actually been out there, on average, 7-10 years. Being victimized over and over again; 10-12 guys a night. If you think about youth being trafficked, everybody is on the same page. Let’s stop it.”

“If you gave any 13, or 14, or 15-year-old girl a choice, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ Not one of them will say, ‘I want to go and service 10-12 strangers a night.’ Not one of them.”

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