Imagine, waking up one day to a loved one disappearing. No one knows where they are, nor will they ever be heard from again. They will be among the 1.6 million homeless and runaway children in America, and thousands of those millions will be forced into human trafficking, leaving these victims of sexual abuse with traumatic psychological problems. From Asia to the America’s, sex trafficking is emerging more and more everyday, making it be the largest and fastest growing black market trade.
The internet is playing a key role, nowadays anyone can access a computer or phone. The platforms of social media and online advertisements makes ordering sex as easy as ordering off of Amazon. For all these reasons sex trafficking continues to plague society.
Sex work has affected the adults of history arcing back to Christ. Since the age of ancient Greeks and Romans to today, humans have been exposed to sex trafficking. Rutgers University stated in their campus coalition White slavery, historically, refers to the forced prostitution of European women.
Rutgers University Campus Coalition Against Trafficking stated “Throughout the 1600s, other countries became more involved in the European slave trade. These included Spain, North America, Holland, France, Denmark and Sweden”. In 1927 the United Nations created an agreement in order to protect women from becoming sex trafficking victims. However, naysayers claim that the International Agreement for the Suppression of “White Slave Traffic” only protected European women, leaving many women unprotected. For example, during World War II, Japanese women and other Asian women were trafficked all throughout Asia and forced into sex slavery.
They did this in order to protect women in public from soldiers and to stop sexually transmitted infections from being spread, but this did not protect the trafficked victims (Rutgers University). The women that were held hostage were placed in brothel type households. The living conditions were petrifying. Each woman would be held captive in a cramped cubicle, and received continuous beatings if she resisted. Unfortunately, many women died of exhaustion, infections, malnutrition, and suicide. Those who tried to escape were unable to because these stations were surrounded by barbed wire. For ages sex slavery has been frowned upon, but there has not been any progress in preventing it which is why it is an ongoing issue. Filipino writer M.
Evelina Galang spoke to The Huffington Post, stating “The Japanese government is doing their best to erase history. They say there is no evidence, but I have heard the evidence, I have touched the evidence.” Japan offered to apologize and promised the wronged Korean women the promise of $8.3 million, but no amount of money will ever withstand the traumatic events forced upon these women. A more recent story appeared in 2013 on Vice about Native American women, children, and even babies who are being human trafficked on American ships along Lake Superior. The Duluth harbour is notorious among Native people as a site for the trafficking of Native women from northern reservations.” She continues, “in an ongoing project focused on the trafficking of Native women on ships in Duluth, it was found that the activity includes international transport of Native women and teens, including First Nations women and girls brought down from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to be sold on the ships… Native women, teen girls and boys and even babies have been sold for sex on the ships (Vice). Being forced to have sex is a form of violence.
Native American are no less than anyone else, yet why are they the ones to suffer? This humanitarian issue affect all ages and it is up to the people to put to an end to this inhumane practice. An abundance of organizations have been formed to prevent the inconvenient truth of sex trafficking. Many of these groups are nonprofit and nongovermental organizations such as Urban Light, Polaris Project, and Empower Foundation who all have the goal of combating modern day sex slavery. Urban Light is one of the few sexual exploitation organizations that focus on boys and men in Thailand. “Our services and support also extends to the working youth who may be suffering drug and/or acute substance use and disorders, living on the streets, or those who are at risk of being exploited sexually and for labor” (Urban Light). The Polaris Project was founded in 2002 and its mission is to raise awareness of human trafficking occurs in the United States. The Empower Foundation was created in 1985 for the pure purpose of recognizing the issue of sex work in South East Asia, but because of the support of a Rockefeller Foundation grant they were able to create Empower University, which admitted 30,000 sex workers to study and pursue internships.
(Empower Foundation) This allows those in sex slavery to see the option of leaving the business, which many are not able to see because sex workers feel a sense of remorse, as if they owe their pimp. This usually occurs from a traumatic experience which leads to psychological problems.Sex workers do not just wake up and decide they are going to be sex slaves. Those who experienced childhood maltreatment, like physical or sexual abuse, are more likely to participate in sex work. The level of traumatic abuse is associated with negative consequences. The average age of entry into prostitution is thirteen years old. Victims of sexual child abuse and exploitation can experience ‘a sustainable range of psychological problems… throughout their lives… including depression, anxiety, psychosis, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), guilt, fear, sexual dysfunction, substance abuse, and acting out.’ Victimization not only has long-term psychological and developmental effects when it occurs as this vulnerable age, but permanent neural development can be affected.
(Leary 130) The victim ends up feeling powerless during their lifetime. So when the opportunity of possibly receiving love, money, security, or respect, the victim gravitates towards it and is willing to sacrifice everything to be able to receive what she/he may think they need. This particular area of childhood abuse has been overlooked because many people focus on the present, rather than a sex slave’s past.
70% of prostituted victims believe that being sexually abused as children has influence their decisions to become prostitutes. For example, in recent CNN news, 16 year old Cyntoia Brown, who suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, grew up in an abusive home and had run away from her adoptive home prior to becoming involved in the world of prostitution in Nashville, Tennessee. Cyntoia now faces a life sentence for killing the man who purchased her, yet the legal system fails to see the psychological issues she faces. The courtroom sees a child prostitute rather than a child being prostituted. In fact of the 35.9 million people held in sex slavery today, children represent 26% of all forced labor. Those who condemn children for following the pathway of prostitution tend to say the child deserves it for running away.
No one told them to leave, they asked for it, etc. No one asks for that kind of maltreatment or to be repeatedly raped. Even if the person decided they wanted to get involved sex work, they are not allowed to at leave anytime they want. When the person no longer wants to do it, but is still forced to that is not only forced prostitution, but it is rape. Those to totally decriminalizing the practice may say “Human trafficking helps the economy for many developing countries. The Polaris Project claims that the human trafficking industry is estimated to generate around $150 billion annually, which helps support some families.” Those in opposition cite the fact that a fourth of trafficking is prostituting child which proves that despite any economic benefits, human trafficking is an immoral practice.
Many families have no other option, but to sell their children as brides to survive. For instance, an article from The Guardian demonstrates a tough situation within a family in Afghanistan when the country’s wheat crop failed due to a drought. “We were not so desperate before. Now I have to marry them younger. And all five of them will have to get married if the drought becomes worse.
The bride price is 200,000 afghanis £2,000. His father came to our house to arrange it. The boy pays in instalments. First he paid us 5,000 afghanis, which I used to buy food” (The Guardian).
Trading a human for food continues to be unethical, selling people is not a way to solve financial problems.How are these slaves being trafficked? Though people may assume it is not happening in their own backyards, it definitely can, and it most certainly does. Technology has advanced over the years and it is becoming more accessible.
This is a component in the business of sex slavery. Social media platforms such as Instagram have given teenagers a false representation, showing that pimps live a lavish, dazzling lifestyle. Perhaps if they pursue this, they too will have luxurious lives. Websites like Backpage, where one could once sell their old sofa, are now forums for selling humans. As presented in the documentary “I am Jane Doe” the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) receives approximately 10,000 child trafficking reports annually, many of which involve Backpage, which has about 80% of the market for online sex ads.
With a click of a button, an advertisement of these young naked women is posted, and the responses and potential customers surface within seconds. In Doe v.s Backpage, the underage children allege that Backpage “participated” in the solicitation of human trafficking. The Washington Post argued “Backpage has enlisted powerful allies in its free-speech argument, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Cato Institute — as well as some sex workers and non profits who argue that Backpage was actually helpful in making their work safer, and in identifying exploitation perpetrators.” However, the judge saw Backpage had acted as an online publisher, and thus made the website immune from liability for any other third party content that was posted.
The business continues which sets a bad precedent of announcing this is an okay thing to do. The 2012 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report its focus on the two issues of sex trafficking and corruption in the legal system. Nowadays there is a plethora of corruption within law enforcement officials around the world. Venezuela’s police officers are known for kidnapping and getting involved sex rings.
“The belief that police are corrupt in Latin America runs from 90 percent in Mexico to 47 percent in Uruguay, and 70 percent of people polled in Venezuela have a negative view of their authorities. In addition, 56 percent of Venezuelan respondents say they believe the police are involved in organized crime” (Insight Crime). This corruption does not only occur in countries with a poor government, but it also happens in the United States. Officer Linwood Barnhill of Washington D.
C admitted “he forced underage teenagers to work as escorts out of his Southeast Washington apartment… Barnhill served on the force for 24 years” (The Washington Post). Barnhill worked for the law for two decades, yet was working against the system too. The possibility that there are more like this ex-cop in the U.S. is very high. A common misconception is that prostitutes are not educated, which is why they end up being trafficked.
That just is not the case. The sex trade is not run by uneducated people. Many girls are immigrants that that come from every part of the world. “Some are Russian high school graduates; others are Mexican indigenous women who have spent more time in farm fields than in school. Others are Cameroonians whose main interest is in attending college.
Some have legitimate papers, others falsified documents, and still others no papers at all” (Bales, Kevin and Soodalter). Some of them are also people who have never thought about involving themselves in the sex slave business, but rather decided to look for new opportunities to better their lives. Sadly, these innocent people are taken advantage of and manipulated into forced prostitution. BBC News told the story of an Indonesian women by the name of Shandra Woworuntu who arrived in the United States in 2001 hoping to start a new career in the hotel industry. “Instead, she found she had been trafficked into a world of sex slavery, forced drug abuse and violence.
Just a few hours after her arrival to the United States she was forced to have sex”. Her documents were taken. She had no identity.
Shondra became a part of the statistic of the 68% who are trapped into forced labor.It may come as shocking that Shondra’s case occurred in the United States because society has the mindset that the idea of human trafficking is totally taboo and can only happen in foreign countries. The distressful part is that this is happening in supposedly uneventful places like Ohio. “At the time of the study, four of the five Columbus-area cases were unknown to law enforcement, while six of the 10 Toledo-area cases were being investigated by law enforcement, and four of these cases were in the prosecution stage or had been adjudicated. Where information is known, the number of victims in each case ranges from one to at least 10” (Wilson and Dalton 15). As citizens cannot fathom the thought of sex slavery happening here at home, they tend to brush it off as if it does not exist.
This is why so many of these cases are unknown, no one is giving the subject attention, since we apprehend it to be an overseas problem. Globally, 26% of children are involved in human trafficking, and 55% are women and girls. “Traffickers who take women from one country to another and sell them to brothels rely on internal sex markets of the receiving country whose brothels cater to local men within the country” (Barry 166). Sex industrializes women who are prostituted within their own country to men who are abroad as customers for sex tourism and military prostitution. Films about human trafficking created a culture shock at the turn of the millennium. “After two decades of virtual silence, filmmakers crafted at least fifty-five films from 1996 to 2008 that addressed sexual trafficking. They range from big-budget Hollywood dramas to independent feminist documentaries; their locations include regions as diverse as Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Southern California” (Small 416). Today’s society has portrayed that human trafficking only occurs in foreign countries.
Movies like The Chosen Ones, The Whistleblower, Trade, etc. have all been placed out of the states. It is difficult to think of a human trafficking film that takes place in the United States. America media has romanticized the idea of being saved; women are seen as the damsel in distress and have made man the hero in every film. This should not be the only example for young girls. These movies should not brainwash them into thinking that if they are in a dangerous predicament that they are going to be okay because a man is going to swoop right in and save the day. It is completely and utterly impractical. For instance in the film Taken retired CIA agent Bryan Millis, played by Liam Neeson travels overseas trying to rescue his daughter Kim from being auctioned off by sex slavers.
Bryan Millis did the impossible by boarding on a plane and, figuring how to find his daughter in the span of 96 hours. Bryan saves his daughter, but, does he put an end to human trafficking? No. The white man savior complex is redundant. In reality there are plenty of heros who are actually fighting to put an end to sex slavery, such as organizations like Polaris Project, Empower Foundation, and Urban Light. Even the FBI specifies in units that tries to protect sex slaves, but why have they not been mentioned to be heros?A much more realistic film, The Chosen Ones gives the audience a levelheaded perception on the actual truth of girls being taken and not returning to their loved ones. Sex trafficking is very common in Mexico, but what isn’t common is leaving the prostitution ring. Main character 14 year old Sofia faces a challenge when her so called boyfriend Ulises is forced by his family to kidnap Sofia and throw her in a brothel. Sofia gave Ulises her trust, and believed that they were in love which is why she would leave her family to stay with him.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, and this happens everyday to so many innocent people. Their trust is put in the wrong hands and they end up being taken advantage of. Sofia is finally given the opportunity to leave the brothel at the end, only to find out it is because Ulises found a different girl to take Sofia’s spot. To Ulises family and many others who own brothels, money is money. It doesn’t matter who is sold as long as the money is made. Sofia remains to live with Ulises and his family, and is not allowed to leave ever. It was as though she left one prison just to enter another.
That is the reality. There is not a hero for Sofia, and there will not be one for the other thousands who are taken.Prostitution has existed as long as human themselves have existed. The internet has made it even easier for people with the desire to participate in this black market industry to connect with each other and to traffic. This has been to the detriment of the underprivileged immigrants and minors. Even Hollywood films have impacted the outlook to many viewers.
Human trafficking can happen to anyone, it does not have to be in a foreign country. The next time an Amber Alert or news transition pops up, remember the 1.6 million homeless and runaways. Do not involve purchasing or witness any supporting any purchases.
Now the question still remains: how can can the rate of human trafficking decrease? Sex slavery will continue for decades to come, but instead of letting the vast rate increase; there are steps to prevent it. It is urgent to spread awareness of the chilling topic. People should remain open minded to the fact that they are prostituted children rather than child prostitutes.