TERRI Kimball’s ceaseless advocacy for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking was delivered in many forms. Perhaps the most effective was in the form of data.
As a senior staffer in Seattle’s Human Services Department, Kimball commissioned a University of Washington cultural anthropologist, Deborah Boyer, to quantify the number of underage girls engaged in prostitution on any given night. That 2008 report delivered a “conservative” estimate of 300 to 500.
The issue might have faded from Seattle’s collective consciousness, but Kimball, by sheer force of personality, elevated it into a white-hot political issue. She catalyzed other leaders, resulting in changes big and small.
She helped open one of the nation’s few residential treatment programs for prostituted youth and lobbied the Legislature to pass one of the toughest laws in the country for people who pay for sex with minors.
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The previous law told “would-be ‘Johns’ that there is safe haven in the defense of ‘I thought she was 18,’ ” Kimball wrote in a 2010 Seattle Times guest column.
She was quick to remind anyone who’d listen that about 90 percent of minors in prostitution have histories of abuse, neglect or sexual trauma. Even with her work, services to help them leave prostitution, and stay out of it, are lacking.
Her death on Saturday at the age of 64, due to metastatic breast cancer, leaves a void that cannot be easily filled. She was, as one fellow advocate put it, “a bull terrier in a nice little sweater set.”
Kimball wouldn’t want you to mourn the loss of her leadership on these issues. She’d want you to act.
Make a donation in her name to YouthCare, 2500 N.E. 54th St., Seattle, WA 98105; or to Stolen Youth, P.O. Box 296, Seattle, WA 98111.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Erik Smith, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).