AWARENESS IS USELESS WITHOUT ACTION
‘Forced prostitution’ or ‘sex slavery’ is not an alternative career choice that simply comes with some extra occupational hazards. These women are not ‘prostitutes’ in the well-known sense of the word. Sure, many women choose to become sex workers and are paid an agreed amount; however there are many women and girls who do NOT choose this life for themselves, but are forced into it.
If you’ve seen the movie Taken (2008), you’ll already have some idea of how the process may work. These women are slaves; they’re not free to make their own choices. They don’t get paid. They are forced to do what they do. On top of that, they have usually been brutally raped at the outset, beaten, threatened, starved, lied to, sometimes drugged and have endured all of this alone and in deep fear for their lives or their families’ lives. They often contract STDs, sometimes fall pregnant and are forced to have abortions. Sometimes they carry to full term, and their innocent babies are taken away from them. Sadly for most of these victims though, there is no Liam Neeson trying to rescue them. Every day they are forced to service anywhere between 5 – 110 men, depending on the setting.
Victims may work as prostitutes out on the streets, in illegal AND legal brothels, in massage parlors, in pornographic films, and out of hotel rooms and private homes. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, nobody to stand up for them, nobody to tell them that they have more value than the current exploitation of their bruised and battered bodies. They are stripped of their dignity, their freedom, their children, and everything that means anything to them in life. In their trafficker’s eyes, they are worth whatever money they bring in. In their own eyes, they are worth nothing.
How does a woman end up in this horrifying situation? There are many ways… each story is different.
In the developed world, human trafficking victims may have been kidnapped or threatened. They may have been women who were looking for love and have been tricked by a potential date, a human trafficker, unbeknownst to the victim. They may have been homeless, or recently aged out of the foster care system. They are usually lacking family support, which makes them easy prey, as no one will notice they’ve disappeared until long after the fact.
Read the story of one young girl, Anna, who became a victim. It paints the miserable picture much better than I can.
In the developing world, the same tactics can apply. However more often they are women who are looking for work, for a way to lift themselves and their family out of poverty, and unfortunately are offered false jobs by human traffickers. Unemployed, uneducated and poverty-stricken women are highly vulnerable to the deception of traffickers.
For a better understanding of the issue of human trafficking, read The A21 Campaign’s ‘The Problem’ (focused on sex trafficking in Europe).
Did you know that around half the victims of sex trafficking are children?