We're excited to announce that the city of Rockford is joining our cause and has become an official End Demand Illinois Community. Using our campaign's resources and philosophy as a starting point, they are seeking to reshape Rockford’s response to prostitution.
To learn more about the efforts in Rockford or to inquire about becoming an End Demand Illinois community, please contact Lynne Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rockford Steps Up to End Demand
Jennifer K. Cacciapaglia, a city attorney in Rockford, shared the story of how her group decided to focus on ending demand.
"Rockford has suffered for a long time from the sex trade," Jennifer said. "When police went out and did stings, they only focused on women in prostitution." She discovered that johns (men who buy sex) were not being arrested. "I thought that was completely outrageous."
Jennifer works with Weed and Seed, a coalition in Rockford that weeds out blight and crime to create renewal. They asked the Rockford City Police Department to start targeting the johns, too, instead of only arresting women in prostitution. This progress inspired the group, and they wanted to do more. "We started looking around at a broader picture of what could be done," she said. That's when they contacted the End Demand Illinois campaign.
"We really are finding our way, and CAASE's guidance has been wonderful. We're very proud to be partnering with them and working toward an EDI community," Jennifer said. CAASE trained the group using its new Community Response Toolkit--a collection of background research, action steps, media campaigns and other tools to help a community fight sexual exploitation.
By this time, many different organizations in Rockford were interested in joining the local effort: the Salvation Army, local rape crisis centers, anti-domestic violence groups and member of Zonta International. Recently, Jennifer made a presentation to the local Zonta chapter about prostitution and sex trafficking. "Many women came up to me after the presentation and said 'We needed to hear this.' We've been successful at raising awareness that this is not a victimless crime."
Jennifer said that most people are shocked to hear that women often enter prostitution before their 16th birthday. "The neighborhood had been so angry with the women, but there's been no anger toward the pimps and the johns." By becoming an End Demand community, Rockford is working to change that.
Look for upcoming events with the Rockford End Demand community on our events page.