The link between the demand side of sex and trafficking has already been established by good research. But, few are aware of some of the connections and many think that porn use is only a personal decision without larger consequences.
I commend to you this link to a well-written essay by Luke Gilkerson of Covenant Eyes. (Covenant Eyes provides technology to track and filter unwanted sexual content for Internet users.) In this essay he summarizes the linkages and reminds readers that one of the best ways to get the message out is with a good video. He provides an extensive bibliography of videos on the topic of sex trade, porn, trafficking, and their impact on victims, families, and users.
Good stuff for you to consider.
Continuing my reflections on our conference last week…
On Friday, Bethany Hoang of IJM and Diane Langberg of her own practice gave their 2nd plenary talks. Bethany explored some of IJM’s work in Cambodia and how a particular town/village (Svay Pak) has been transformed by the work of rescuing girls and shutting down brothels. One particular brothel was purchased by a church in the US and turned into a center for healing.
Diane explored the problem of domestic trafficking. We’d like to believe that most prostitutes get into the business on their own accord. But, Diane told us that 90% of prostitutes got their start as minors and with the “encouragement” of an adult. In other words, they were pimped…trafficked. She described the usual way this happens with vulnerable adolescent girls. The pimp starts off offering all sorts of gifts and love. These girls often come from homes with domestic violence, addiction, and abandonment. The “love” of the pimp is attractive. Later he manipulates her into prostitution after he has emotional control. We often think of this as a problem with internationals being trafficked into the country but all too often these girls are US citizens.
Diane left us with this quote which convicted us of turning a blind eye. In telling us that the only way we could not see the problem is to not look,
Whoever has the world’s goods, and sees another in need and closes his/her heart against them, how does the love of God abide in him?
In the afternoon, two other individuals gave presentations. Robert Morrison, founder of FREE (www.FREEtheenslaved.net), a grassroots group in Reading working to eliminate trafficking told listeners how they could be effective even without money, time, or experience. His presentation gave the following facts
- While awareness of trafficking is increasing, prosecutions have not risen. Only 1% of trafficking cases are solved.
- Trafficking is the fasting growing criminal activity in the world because, unlike guns and drugs, human victims are reusable
- 4 forces fuel trafficking: huge profits with little fear of being caught (32B annual profits), an abundance of vulnerable people (1/3 of runaways are contacted by traffickers), a growing demand (porn and on-line ads), and a disconnected society (sees porn as “free speech” and resignation to the problem).
- Average citizens can do something about 2 forces: speak up about demand and make a connection between porn and trafficking
- Best practices in fighting this is building awareness, finding “networkers” and others who who people, find “trainers” who can educate on the problem. There are lots of resources out there to train law enforcement and others to understand the true problem
- Also, start with direct influence. Ask stores that carry papers/mags that advertise sensual massages to stop their practice. In the Reading area, they were able to shut down 10 of these parlors which often have trafficked women in them
Bob handed out a free activism kit. Included was a DVD and brochures. The DVD is 12 minutes long and educates audiences to the key facts re: trafficking. These materials are produced by the US government and are free. You can get your own at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking/campaign_kits/index.html. Bob reminded us that 1/3 of victims are rescued by someone who was suspicious and took action to get help.
In my next post I’ll comment on Assistant DA Pearl Kim’s presentation. She provided us an intimate look into the world of trafficking and abuse from a prosecution perspective.
This weekend I started reading Victor Malarek’s book, The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade. It is about the 4th wave or explosion of trafficked women from Eastern Europe who are enslaved as sex slaves around the world. Not fun reading but necessary for those interested in understanding the extent and effect of sex trafficking. [WARNING: If you have suffering sexual abuse, you do not need to read this book. It would only add to your trauma. This book is for those who do not know your experience!]
I suspect that this book would be useful for those struggling with temptations to visit massage parlors, prostitutes or view on-line pornography. Each of these illicit sexual encounters is designed to convey the message that the woman wants and enjoys providing the man with pleasure. While I recognize that some individuals pursue bondage and pain oriented pornography, most find coercive imagery counterproductive to their sexual fantasy. Hence, this book would be useful in that it has the capacity to blow up pleasure oriented fantasy. Tempted to look at porn? Recognize that the pictures you find enjoyable are likely made by those exploiting and enslaving women. She may be smiling at you but she may be doing so in order to avoid further torture or death.
The author is correct when he asserts that the sex trade benefits from complicity (using women for one’s own pleasure) and complacency (assuming the women are willing victims). Unfortunately, he has no real answer other than to expose the shame of countries and politicians that turn a blind eye.