(Suzanne Sausville/WBZ NewsRadio)
NORWOOD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — About 200 people gathered Thursday for a summit hosted by Attorney General Maura Healey's office, with the goal of learning more about sex trafficking, why it happens, and how to stop it.
The two-day summit drew law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and victim advocates, as well as Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, who will open the summit Friday morning.
Peter Qualliotine, Coordinator of the Equality Model Initiative at the EVA Center in Boston, focuses his work on teaching men that it isn't okay or normal to buy sex. He hosted a session Thursday called "Promoting Men's Accountability to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation."
"The fundamental problem is the perceived entitlement to sexual access to the bodies of other people, because you pay," he said. "What I want to do is challenge his entitlement to think that this is an okay thing to do,"
He said he supports legislation that would decriminalize sex work, but doesn't want to let those who buy sex off the hook.
"I fully support the decriminalization of people who are exploited," he said. "What I don't support is the legalization or decriminalization of those who choose to exploit. What we know in countries that have chosen full decriminalization or legalization is that it's a failed experiment. What happens when you legalize is, it sets the norm that tells men it's okay."
Qualliotine says that, even if it appears that women enter sex trafficking of their own free will, it doesn't end well.
"At some point, what we know is, they're going to be sexually assaulted," he said. "At another point, they're going to be arrested."
He says that, to really solve the problem, income inequality needs to be tackled at the same time.
WBZ NewsRadio's Suzanne Sausville (@wbzSausville) reports