Prostitution is a root cause of gender violence. Let’s end it now.

Why put an end to prostitution? Far from being a job, prostitution is exploitative, harmful, and perpetuates gender inequality.

This week the New York Times Magazine featured the cover story “Should Prostitution Be a Crime?”

The article suggests that people in prostitution are helped by the wholesale decriminalization of the sex trade, including pimping and sex buying.

This position flies in the face of our work assisting thousands of survivors of sex trafficking. Far from being a job like any other, prostitution is almost invariably a condition of gender exploitation and frequently a violent and lethally dangerous form of abuse inextricably connected to sex trafficking.

Each day we work with survivors who share their histories of abuse and exploitation in the sex trade. Many of them were lured into it by pimps and traffickers, most as children. Others have ended up in prostitution when conditions of extreme poverty and prior sexual abuse leave them traumatized and with few options.

Ms. Bazelon’s omission of the experience of these victims, almost exclusively women and girls of color and undocumented immigrants, and her focus instead on the comparatively privileged, adult, mostly white “sex worker,” creates a falsely benign picture of the world’s most brutal industry.

Also omitted is the fact that prostituted and trafficked girls and women rarely reap the economic benefits of their exploitation–and by the time their economic value in the sex trade has expired are with rare exceptions physically, psychologically, and economically devastated.

Our clients’ experiences are the basis of our conviction that commercial sexual exploitation is one of the root causes of gender inequality and that we need to eliminate it, not simply try to mitigate the harm suffered by its victims.

People in prostitution should not be criminalized and must be provided with services to get out of poverty and escape exploitation. That’s why Sanctuary is growing our Economic Empowerment Program so that even more survivors can find a path to living wage, career-track work.

We contend, however, that when we fail to hold traffickers, pimps and buyers accountable, the sex trafficking industry continues to expand, destroying the lives of new generations of victims.

We are saddened that the voices of our clients were not included in this article. The author rejected our offer to share their experience with her. We were not alone. Many of our partner organizations, who have vast experience serving prostituted and trafficked people, were not consulted by Ms. Bazelon.

At Sanctuary, we believe that failing to hold traffickers, pimps and buyers accountable, is not progressive but harmful and dangerous to the women, men, and children we serve.

We believe that they deserve safe harbor and a world without exploitation.

Statement on the Yankees’ hiring of Aroldis Chapman

Chapman is being investigated by the MLB after allegations of domestic violence.

Pitcher Aroldis Chapman’s behavior toward his girlfriend this past October has all the hallmarks of lethality. When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, it increases the risk of homicide for women by 500%. In the past 25 years in the U.S., more intimate partner homicides have been committed with guns than with all other weapons combined.

Additionally, the occurrence of strangulation during domestic abuse is widely recognized as an indicator that the abuse may later escalate into homicide.

It’s reprehensible that the New York Yankees hired Chapman when he is under investigation for violating Major League Baseball’s recent and much-touted domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy.

– Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director

Happy holidays, and a wish for the new year.

May 2016 bring peace, understanding and freedom from violence.

Dear Sanctuary family,

As we look forward to the new year, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you, and those you love, a joyous holiday season.

In a world with so much strife, tragedy and hate, I am especially grateful to our staff – you should take great pride in the work you do and the compassion and dedication you show our clients. Many have suffered, not only at the hands of their abusers, but because of their religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

And to our supporters – thank you for your incredible support in 2015. From giving to volunteering to educating others about Sanctuary’s work, you made a difference.

Sadly, recent events have allowed bigotry and hateful rhetoric to have a national platform. Some of our Muslim clients and staff and have expressed concern for their own and their families’ safety. Let’s continue to let them know that Sanctuary is a safe place to express those concerns and make every effort to help them through these difficult times.

I know that you join me in hoping that the new year brings peace and understanding to our troubled world.


Judy Kluger
Executive Director
Sanctuary for Families

New Website. New Look. New Ways to Get Involved.

Executive Director Judy H. Kluger welcomes you to our new website.

If there is one thing we’ve learned at Sanctuary in the thirty years since our founding, it’s that we can’t do it all on our own.

As we strive to create a world where freedom from gender violence is a basic human right, our staff and our survivor-leaders increasingly need your support to face the challenges ahead.

That’s why I could not be more excited to welcome you to the new

This new website offers a range of options to get involved with Sanctuary’s services for survivors of gender violence, along with our extensive outreach, training and advocacy.

You’ll find dynamic Volunteer and Pro Bono portals and interactive Events pages. You can sign up for email updates at the bottom of every page, request outreaches and trainings, and make donations with ease.

Looking for more updates about our work? You can discover insights and get the latest news right here on our brand new blog, and find inspiration in the stories of some remarkable survivors.

And – finally – you can do it all on your mobile phone or tablet.

More importantly, we’ve made it easier to get help. Large “get help” buttons are visible throughout the site, and lead to descriptive Get Help pages available in English and Spanish. A permanent escape button ensures you can exit the site quickly if someone enters the room.

I welcome you to take some time to navigate through our new site. Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Reach out to me on Twitter at @judykluger.

And be sure to check back soon for updates!

– By Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director