By RIA, Inc.
Throughout history, buying sex has been packaged in many ways. We call it prostitution, trafficking of humans, solicitation, sex work, and a myriad of other descriptions. Regardless of how we frame it, the underlying reality is that absolutely no one goes unscathed in a culture that feeds off the bodies of people for sex.
As direct service providers, survivors and allies in Massachusetts, Ready. Inspire. Act. Inc. (RIA) cares deeply about the language used to describe “buying sex” and asks that you form your opinion by listening closely to the people with lived experiences in prostitution and the commercial sex trade, both victims and survivors – female, transgender, male.
A majority of voices say that what they have experienced is not a profession. It is survival. It is isolation. They testify to experiences that kept them from being able to fully care for their children or themselves. These voices share experiences of being raped and violated, often more times than they can remember or count. These voices say they would never choose for their daughters or sons to have sex to survive. These voices demand that their lives be free of abuse, disregard, and loss.
These voices are right before us, if only we choose to listen, engage, and hear their reality. When we refuse to hear the stories of those whose bodies are seen as a commodity for sex, we refuse to see people as human. From this place, we can easily rationalize all forms of gender-based violence, oppression and injustice. It is this modern-day slavery, the denial of humanity that continues to keep us all bound.
What will it take for us as a culture to see all people as worthy of respect and dignity, rather than as a means for our personal gain, pleasure or profit? Are we willing to see our own humanity reflected in another? Are we okay to justify and forgive the oppression of one for the benefit of the other? We ask you to respond with us as we lean into this collective reflection. When we wrestle with the truth mirrored in this reflection, we all indeed become free.
RIA operates with a mission to stand with and support people with experience in the commercial sex trade, and its associated exploitation, trafficking and prostitution, by providing a range of community-based services. Offering clinical care and case management, peer advocacy and mentorship, workshops, training and groups, the Massachusetts based nonprofit is made up of a team of survivors and allies, standing as one in vision and mission to deliver skilled and compassionate care that elevates the people they serve. The organization had 5,185 care encounters and completed 47 new program intakes in 2020 alone and is committed to expanding programmatic outcome measurements and more in the years to come. To learn more about RIA, or their upcoming inaugural gala, go to ReadyInspireAct.org.