Not For Sale
Prostitution and human sex trafficking has ravaged the world’s history and even with it being deemed taboo women still go missing. When we first think of sex trafficking we think of women and young girls overseas being sold into these large businesses. When in reality it is much closer to home than we expect. Sex trafficking impacts America as well and can be seen each night with what we think are willing prostitutes. The systematic kidnapping, types of trafficking, it’s global impact, the impact its had on the United States, and prevention actions taken are the main things one must know about sex trafficking.
To really understand sex trafficking of women and children one must understand human trafficking. At large the phrase can range with various meanings from illegal immigration to smuggling underpaid labor. There are incredible problems surrounding human trafficking that seems to lead to it’s thriving. The organizations dedicated to combating sex trafficking are underfunded and uncoordinated internationally. Laws designed against trafficking are poorly enforced in countries all over the world (Zhang 12). The business aspect of human trafficking has yet to be addressed or changed because of the lack of understanding we have as a whole. One way to think of trafficking is like thinking of it as a disease. To break down a disease is knowing what it is made of, how it started and then breaking each component down to eradicate it. The breakdown of how sex trafficking happens starts with how it begins. There are systematic ploys used by sex traffickers to enslave women: deceit, sale by family, abduction, seduction or romance, and former slave recruitment.
The story of a young girl named Maya broke the hearts of many with deceit and sale by family ploys start her on her road down sex slavery. Born in Nepal, Maya was sold for $55 dollars by her family to an agent who promised her a job at a carpet factory. She was first interviewed at age 19 by author Siddharth Kara. By this time she had spent 4 years in the sex trafficking life. The night she left home for the carpet factory she was sold for $10 to a trafficker who took her to Mumbai with another girl in her situation. Finally sold to her brothel boss she was told that she owed the boss thirty-five thousand rupees ($780) and had to repay her debt in sex. When she refused she was raped and starved until she complied. When she tried to escape the police did nothing for her and she was beaten severely. After she was sold to another brothel boss where she lived in a cage with another woman. After 2 forced abortions and multiple beatings she fled to a shelter nearby only to be told by her father that she should not come home because she had contracted HIV and will never marry and only bring shame (Kara 68).
Unlike mainstream media abduction is not a normal way to acquire sex slaves. False job offers are much more common because transportation is a lot less challenging. Some are even victims of love. Men who offer their undying love approach women and seduce until there is an agreement to go somewhere together. False documents are forged as the agents tell the girl to go ahead of him and he will meet her there or be met by his friend. The friend usually always turns out to be a brothel owner. Women who were once sex slaves turn into recruiters and are given expensive clothing and gifts to recruit new women. Once recruited by any of these means the women are beaten physically and mentally until they are too tired to fight back. They are constantly tortured, humiliated and raped.
Sex slavery is not so black and white. There are many different types of sexual slavery that people tend to look over. Yet women still are facing these types of slavery every day. Since trafficking is well known and has already been explained I will place emphasis on the other types of slavery: war induced sexual slavery, ritual sexual slavery, and forced marriage.
War induced sexual slavery is not a new phenomenon. This has been a normalcy of war since the beginning of time. What has changed though is its appearance in the media and the attention it has gotten as a brutality of war. The theory is that civil war has brought these stories to light. Rape has been used as a war tactic against entire female populations, detainees and political prisoners. “It breaks the spirit, humiliates, tames, and produces a docile, differential, obedient soul. Its immediate message to women and girls is that we will have in our own bodies only the control that we are granted by men and thereby in general only that control in our environments that we are granted by men.” (Cummings (Card, 1996, p.2)) In some cases rape of enemy women is encouraged by commanding officers. It was reported that in 1999, in Sierra Leone, a rebel commander ordered all virgin girls to be physically examined. Once they were proven virgins they were forced to make themselves available to the rebel soldiers each night to be raped. Women are targeted sometimes during ethnic wars like those in Rwanda and Bosnia, held only because they were the opposing ethnicity. Even in World War II it was reported that approximately 100,000 women were raped as the Soviet army moved through German (Cummings 123). Now sexual slavery is hoped to not be a consequence but the atrocities are all too real in times of war.
Ritual sexual slavery is sort of like trafficking, in the sense that women are forced into servitude and prostitution or bound to a ritualized environment that obligates sexual devotion. An example of ritual sexual slavery is seen in India. Devadasi is a centuries old tradition of dedicating girls to temples where sexual service is expected. Although this servitude was outlawed in 1982 it is estimated that 15,000 girls still become them annually. Once parents hand their daughters over to local temples the girls are symbolically married to God. When they start their menstrual cycle they are expected to become sexual servants to upper- class men in their village. Religious ceremonies like those in devout Buddhists or Catholics use virgins and women. Due to the religious affiliations some women have no chance for an end to their nightmare.
Akin to the trap of religious sex slavery, forced marriage is also a type of slavery that women have difficulty escaping. Forced marriage can also be divided into sub groups such as child marriages and forced arranged marriages. In some countries (including the United states) children are given as a means of brining two families together. It is considered a forced marriage because children are unable to understand the nature of marital relationships and what is expected of them. These are not uncommon in rural areas like that in Egypt, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Pakistan and the Middle East. In Pakistan it is common for men to give their girls, of any age, as a means of compensation for crimes they commit. The motives for forced marriages are similar to those of child marriages. The only difference is that women may consent to an arranged marriage. Yet if they are forced the woman may not have consented but yet has been given up anyway. Sometimes it is even the case that women have moved from their home country to places like the UK where forced marriage is uncommon and are kidnapped and shipped back to their original country of origin by their parents unwillingly. Sometimes the women return to their old lives with a sudden new husband after being missing for months and sometimes they disappear altogether. Early and forced marriages are all apart of sexual slavery and sex trafficking because they violate basic human rights for profit or sexual satisfaction.
On a global scale, the numbers surrounding sex trafficking have changed over time. But it is calculated that the total annual number of individuals trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation is between five hundred thousand and six hundred thousand, out of a total number of annual human trafficking victims of 1.5 to 1.8 million (Kara 101). The International Labor Organization estimates annual profits from these women at $31.7 billion and on a smaller scale $9.5 billion by the U.S. State Department. The number most used by nongovernmental organizations and by governments was provided by the U.S. State Department: 600,000 to 800,000 individuals are trafficked each year across international borders. (Kara, Siddarth) Asian countries are said to have the highest total number of sex slaves but per capita, Europe has the highest levels of sex slavery in the world. “Assuming a 3.5% growth rate for the next five years, there would be 1.48 million slaves by the end of 2012.” (Siddarth 65). Profit numbers show that trafficked sex slaves are by far the most lucrative. Only 4.2 % of the world’s slaves are trafficked sex slaves, but they generate 39.1% of the slaveholder’s profits. All of these numbers seem to revolve around a universal truth; society is gender-biased socially and economically. This inequality seen worldwide is only a factor, which creates this need for sex trafficking.
Historically sexual prostitution has been traced back to ancient Neo-Babylonian times when women would provide religious favors as a benefit to the temples. Which once was a offering to gods, prostitution has spiraled out of control into a global gender based fight for life. In recent years Asian countries have experienced a growth in the sex industry. In 1990, an estimated 1,500 women were working prostitutes in Cambodia. By 1993, that number jumped to 20,000 and by 1996 an estimated 57,000 girls were working in the sex industry in Cambodia (Cummings 8). The transnational sex industry generates an estimated $57 billion a year. Along with women, children are global commodities; it is estimated that $20 million a year are spent on women and girls in Cambodia, 1/3 of which are under the age of 17. Sexual slavery is found on every continent, in many different contexts, which makes its elimination seem like an impossible task. All roads of “blame” seem to lead back to the United States. We command a lot of the world’s top internet sites which is why some say that we are the ones impacted the most by sex trafficking.
Almost 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, there are still slaves in the United States. They might not look exactly the same but they are still slaves nonetheless. Compared to a global scale, America is the least invaded with the horrors of sex trafficking. The annual number of sex trafficking victims in North America is approximately 0.9% of the global total; the number of total human trafficking victims is approximately 1.1% (Kara 183). There are multiple reasons as to why the numbers are so low in America, compared globally. First, America is far from many origin countries for trafficked persons. The travel is more expensive and the increased security makes it difficult for traffickers from places like Mexico. The flights are long and expensive especially from European countries. And even if they go through American borders from Mexico by aid of experts called “coyotes”, there are still papers and documents to be made to make the moving look legal. There is also the aggressive Anti- Trafficking legislation that was passed in 2000 called the Trafficking Victim and Protection Act (TVPA), which sparked a large increase of prosecutions and convictions of trafficking criminals (Kara 183).
Social media tends to only tell stories about women trafficked into America. Yet there are still American women, born and bread, placed in these harrowing situations as well. There are men here that pull out all the tricks to keep women as their illegal property and they are most commonly known as “pimps”. Pimps have no boundaries and are not picky when it comes to whom they solicit. They are immediately deemed a trafficker if they solicit children (in the eyes of the law) yet this seems to unimpressed the heartless pimps. Studies concluded that between 244,000 and 325,000 children and youth are at risk of becoming victims of sexual exploitation (Bales 90). Here and elsewhere in the world child sellers are extremely entrepreneurial. And given our increasing connection to the Internet, they can frequently be found online, peppering the ether with every kind of child pornography.
A sad revelation should be made about U.S. Laws about trafficking. An issue that seriously affects the quality of response by the United States is whether the victims are foreign-born or domestic. It influences prosecutions of traffickers and funding of survivor services. When the TVPA passed in 2000, it defined child victims for the first time but it seemed that the provisions favored foreign-born as opposed to U.S. or domes victims. As an activist pointed out to author Kevin Bales, “ Clearly, if you look at the TVPA, the focus is on international trafficking victims. The services are proceeded to the international victims. An although I don’t see it as a competition, I would suspect that there’s a higher incidence of domestic than international trafficking- I suspect largely because its become so hard these days to cross the borders- and I think it’s being largely ignored.” Prevention Actions taken: Today the most difficult part, it seems, is knowing a trafficking victim when you see one. Sex slaves tend to be hidden and chances are you could be looking at someone completely normal and not know they are in danger. Sometimes they make it out and never report the person responsible for their misdoings. The fear tactic is what’s preventing these people from speaking out. Also people must remember that there really is a difference between prostitution and sex slavery. Some women who appear to be prostitutes could really be sold as such yet they are actual slaves. The differences that surround these two standings of women make it incredibly hard for law enforcement to gain a bigger picture of what is really going on. They have only known one life and it was not one with a lot of substance. For years people have been encouraged to call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center to report people who don’t control their earnings and are usually afraid to discuss themselves. Also the U.S. Department of Education has provided lists of warning signs especially designed for students and young people (Bales 164). They encourage teachers to remind students that recruitment can take many forms and they could be sitting in the classroom next to you. Through the history of groups combatting human trafficking smaller groups have caught negative attention and didn’t bring many people to justice. This is because of infighting that is usually based around the definition of human trafficking, ruining their chances to do more and looking over people that don’t fit their definition. That’s why it should be important to focus on nationwide independent serve provider organizations like that of the Freedom Network. The Freedom Network was established in 2001 by a group of organizations and individuals who bring decades of experience from a diverse set of backgrounds, such as immigrant women and children’s rights, victim and social services, migrant farm worker advocacy, and human rights activism. They are currently made up of 30 small organizations, 5 of them being experts in the field of human trafficking. They take a “human rights” approach to the dilemma of human trafficking. That is, there approach is to focus on the needs and situation of every individual trafficked. This requires them to respect human rights and be as empowering and non-judgmental as possible. They give the public an interesting view of different ways to approach human trafficking and why each way hasn’t worked before. They describe them as: the organized crime approach, the immigration approach, the sexual-moral approach, and the “Saving Women and Girls” approach. They describe the “organized crime” approach to be extremely detached. Law enforcement, even if they do a really good rob, tends to treat the victims as a “disposable” witness. They also falsely criminalize some men/women who were trafficked but “caught”. And since their disposable witness is no longer under the protection of the law once they are free, they are extremely susceptible to becoming trafficked again. Replacing trust in people that only bring them back to the slave trade business and are never seen again. Along with law enforcement comes the immigration approach. This has never worked because it only makes our borders stricter forcing this industry underground, even further from our vision than before. This, in turn, merely strengthens the authority and power of the traffickers. They have “connections” that make their slaves more valuable, only giving the trafficker more money. Even though the main focus of this paper is sex trafficking, human trafficking still plays a major part in the circle of trafficking as well. The Freedom Network understands the connection and is against the sexual-moral approach. This approach leaves out all other victims of trafficking to focus solely on prostitution. This creates more grey areas and denies any sexual violence in other types of trafficking. This, in turn, leaves out men and boys who have been sexually trafficked. This is also a consequence of the “saving women and girls” approach to trafficking. It denies that everyone is vulnerable to being trafficked. Social service programs that cater to victims will become more gender oriented, only reinforcing the longstanding stigma of female victims and leaving out other victims. Freedom Network has gathered its name in the name of humanity and of the rights of the people they serve. They are constantly working to bring awareness and organize groups so that one day there will be no more sex slavery. “Freedom Network member organizations encourage policies that promote survivor autonomy, avoid bifurcated treatment of trafficked persons, and discourage rogue and vigilante efforts that compromise safety and autonomy in the name of combating human trafficking (freedomnetworkusa.org).”
More prevention actions/organizations
Bales, Kevin, and Ron Soodalter. The Slave next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today. Berkeley: University of California, 2009. Print.
Doezema, Jo. Sex Slaves and Discourse Masters: The Construction of Trafficking. London: Zed, 2010. Print.
"Freedom Network." Freedom Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.
Hua, Julietta. Trafficking Women's Human Rights. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2011. Print.
Kara, Siddharth. Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery. New York: Columbia UP, 2009. Print.
Parrot, Andrea, and Nina Cummings. Sexual Enslavement of Girls and Women Worldwide. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008. Print.
Zhang, Sheldon. Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings: All Roads Lead to America. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007. Print.
Draft 5 Authors note
My audience is mainly the sociology department of academia and maybe even psychology. Sex trafficking is a social industry in which people have to trick others and use psychological warfare to keep their “property”. I was trying to grab the attention of those who know a lot about how the world works. There are so many parts to interacting with people and I think that sociology buffs would understand the mind games. The central point I wanted to make was that sex trafficking is a lot closer to home than we think.
I would appreciate it if you started reading at maybe the middle of page 6. I just added a good portion of that so I have no idea if it even sounds good.
I think I did a really good job at breaking the topics apart. There is a clear cut direction in my paper and I think I hit a lot of the necessary parts of sex trafficking. I think there is just enough about each topic and that I did a good job at expanding areas that needed it. I do worry about how I am going to tie everything together at the end. There are a large variety of subjects within sex trafficking so I’m worried it will be difficult to bring it all together without diminishing my main points.
Are there any topics or questions that you think the general public would like answered when it comes to sex trafficking? Are the topics that I chose clear enough or should I break them down even further? Do I need more topics? Should I add another personal story because I really liked my story on Maya? Any tips you have for me will be greatly appreciated.
IN CLASS WORKSHOP NOTES:
* How the government is attacking the issue of sex trafficking * Percentage of police reports respond to sex traffickers * Elaborate on the approaches of trafficking
* Topic sentence for transitions
* Social media- expand
* Explain what I want to happen with sexual refugees
* Domestic situations- how they are handled
* Explain big ass quote