It is called the modern day slavery and it is all around us: human trafficking, sex trafficking, child exploitation. Its name doesn’t matter, it, “Is a dark stain on humankind that diminishes every moral human being” (Vision Abolition). Every day, “Women, children and even men are bought and sold within their own countries and across international borders. Human slavery is not a just a practice of the past. It is a poorly hidden, dirty little secret of today’s world” (Vision Abolition). Fortunately, people are starting to take notice. Thousands of studies are being conducted and published to get the facts “out there” and hundreds of organizations have made it their goal to make the injustice of sexual exploitation known to the world. But are facts enough to get people to act? Are they enough to get people to take a stand against today’s slavery? Sex trafficking is more than just a list of statistics; each and every one of those numbers is made from a story: the story of a small child from Africa, the story of a teenage girl from Phoenix, the story of a pimp giving in to fear. The world does need to know the facts about sexual exploitation, but it also needs to hear the personal stories of the victims and those that hold them.
New articles are being published about trafficking nearly every month. They seek to understand the magnitude of this problem and how to change it. These reports say that,
“The sad reality is that the creation of child pornography is largely driven by American citizens” (Vision Abolition). In fact, “55% of child pornography on the Internet comes from the U.S” (Vision Abolition). But it does not stop at pornography. Over 200 million women are missing in the world today due to trafficking and over one million children are forced into sex slavery each year, some of them as young as five years old. About 300,000 of those children are from the United States (Branded PXH). Each child is expected to perform for 100 to 1500 clients each year (Branded PXH), creating an industry that brings in $52 billion worldwide for their recruiters and sellers (Vision Abolition).
One million children are forced into sex slavery each year, (Branded PXH) that means there are one million stories of individuals, of real people, of real lives that need to be told and understood; they need to be shown as more than mere numbers. One little girl, Angie, made her livelihood off prostitution. Her “Shackles are brandings made from crude scalding irons and tattoos that claim her as property of her pimp” (Branded PXH). That is what slavery does: it dehumanizes, it reduces a person down to a piece of property, it makes children think that they have no other choice. When discussing one trafficking case police officer Greg Scheffer states, “She was subject to various abuses while in there. This is all part of the breaking down period where [he] gains complete control of this girl” (ABC News). The case he refers to involves a girl named Debbie, who had been kidnapped by a friend. In between clients she was, “Kept in a small dog crate for several days. Lying on her back in the tiny space, her whole body went numb.” (ABC News) and when the police finally found her, “She was tied up and crushed into a drawer under a bed” (ABC News). Another girl, named Miya, was not only physically abused but also psychologically abused by her captors. Her account says, “And then I heard him start messing with his gun. And he counted to three and then he pulled the trigger. And then I was still alive. I opened my eyes, and I just saw him laughing” (ABC News). Although the girls considered escape, they did not want to risk the threats of their captors to hurt their families so they remained in captivity as sex saves.
These are sad stories. There is a lot of pain and suffering. But there is more to these girls than defenselessness and captivity. Of Debbie Scheffer says, “She is a very strong, amazing girl. We ran into a few other girls that are like that. I don't know how they have the strength. They are very brave” (ABC News). One woman, after being saved from captivity, wrote this. “I was: dead inside, raped, deemed worthless, molested regularly since I was young, sold by my own mother, pregnant, rejected by my family, a single mother, an outcast in my community, lost without a place to go. I am: accepted, beautiful, healed and healthy…now helping other women to be free” (Vision Abolition). There is hope still for these women; they have such strength to get up everyday and live the nightmare they are in. Now it is the world’s turn to do something for them.
To be trafficked, first there has to be a trafficker. Who are they and what is their story? Many would see the trafficker’s life as one full of depravity and rightly so, for selling another human being for profit can never be morally justified. But there is more pain and hurt in the life of a pimp than most would think. There is a practice called “Happy Trafficking” which “Refers to victims-turned-traffickers’ practice of claiming to have had an ideal experience in legitimate jobs in the West or elsewhere, hiding the fact that they have been forced into prostitution themselves” (U.S. Department of State). It is a form of psychological coercion against the victim-turned-trafficker that “conveys the message that those who comply will be rewarded, while those who refuse to comply will be severely punished” (U.S. Department of State). In many circumstances, these woman are faced with having to bring more woman into prostitution or continue to live a life of prostituted slavery themselves. They must choose between their freedom or the freedom of a stranger. Even if these women can get out of slavery, many do not have any job skills to survive on their own. As a result, they are picked up by criminal organizations to be traffickers because, “Governments frequently exhibit leniency toward female criminals. In many countries in Eurasia, female traffickers are released from serving prison time when they are pregnant or mothers of young children” (ABC News). Slave traders do horrible “ruthless ploys designed to trick, coerce and win the confidence of potential victims,” (Vision Abolition) that often target defenseless woman and children. But many traffickers themselves are defenseless, alone, and hurting. Their stories can not also be ignored.
Even with all the media that has surrounded sex trading recently, the subject still seems far away, a problem for somewhere else. But that is what mere statistics does: it removes the individual stories from the injustice. If people start listening to the voices of these children who are sex slaves and the voices of these women who are forced into trafficking, the problem will become more real. It is happening all around us, in our own country, our own city, our own backyard. The “slavery of human trafficking and sexual exploitation buries its ugly tentacles deep into humanity’s heart.” (Branded PXH). Yes the problem looks daunting. But “While there are millions of children …victimized everyday, let us not forget the one. The one girl deceived, the one woman afflicted with AIDS, the one child needing a rescuer. To succumb to the enormity of the problem is to fail the one” (Branded PXH).
Confession and healing
2 years ago