It is estimated that half of the victims human trafficking that are forced, defrauded, or coerced into the sex industry. These are predominantly women and children. They are forced to provide sex for sale through various means such as: pornography, prostitution, escort services, stripping, and many other forms.
The demand for sexual services in the world is a part of a phenomenon of sexual perversity, pederasty, pedophilia, pornography, rape culture, and prostitution. At this point, you may be convinced you do not contribute to sex trafficking.
Perhaps you have checked off in your mind how you do not contribute: I do not buy sex abroad, I do not abuse or buy children, and I do not buy porn. Nevertheless, that may not be all there is to consider as we look at responsibilities to address this.
NOTE: Please know a single blog cannot cover all the issues inter-related to how we have arrived at this level of perversity and demand. We can look at some factors that contribute and how we can each take some responsibility to address this depravity.
Sex trafficking begins to look different when we start plotting some points that map a course that has led to exploitation – here are three.
Point 1: Abuse and the silence that surrounds it are like a cancer in the United States and abroad. Abuse is there; we know it is there.
We continue to find victims, who did not, could not speak up and perpetrators are not held accountable for whatever reason. Most children wait 1-5 or longer to disclose (www.d2l.org)
It is estimated in the United States alone that more than eighty percent (80%) of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation have been abused as children. (www.sharedhope.org).
The proliferation of this demand for sex with children is fueled by silence about sexual abuse. Get the facts. Learn more at: http://www.d2l.org
Proof is in the news that silence continues to be a contributing factor. Look at cases like Penn State recently in the news for a sexual abuse scandal. A long-term silence allowed for many victims – see the article by Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/09/penn-state-scandal-timeline-jerry-sandusky_n_1084204.html
Point 2: The demand is great and growing. The porn industry is profiting off the abuse, rape, and torture of children in pornography and has exploded virally.
Some people who view images of porn become desensitized to the images and begin to act out in real life what they have viewed. This includes younger people who are engaged with pornographic images by accident or by intention of their own curiosity or the exposure by a peer or predator. For more information see: http://socialcostsofpornography.org/ and http://www.internetsafety101.org/101_video_clips.htm. These sites include studies about the medical and psychological effects of porn that elaborate on the prevalence and problems for children.
Additionally, sociologist, medical doctors, and researchers are calling this an unregulated social experiment with catastrophic effects on children. (See the work of Cordelia Anderson, Gail Dines, Sharon Cooper)
Point 3: Begin to layer in the cultural normalization of engagement of children in sexual behaviors.
Children are hyper-sexualized media, music, clothing, and pornography. Recent cases of children in beauty contests being dressed as “hookers” from the movie Pretty Woman (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/celebritology/post/toddlers-and-tiaras-contestant-dresses-as-pretty-woman-prostitute/2011/09/07/gIQAErb78J_blog.html) .
Hyper-sexualization including a stripper pole kits for preschoolers should help to illuminate the issues that children are being bombarded with sexual messages and groomed for engagement very early. Here is a story from ABC news: http://abcnews.go.com/2020/video/young-sexy-15031065.
One professor of education Diane Levin has written about this phenomenon and has tips for parents on addressing this issue in her book “So Sexy So Soon” see: (http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/ )
What does all of this have to do with our responsibility concerning sex trafficking?
Think about these questions:
- When was the last time you recognized the issue in everyday life as it comes across your eyes and ears?
- How have you addressed your personal consumption of music, movies, and clothing choices/sexualized fashion, tolerance of pornography on the web or in other venues where commodification of sex for “sale” is tolerated?
- Are you are complicit by those choices or have you been silent about this issue?
- What proactive steps have you taken to make a difference in what is being offered to society?
If we are to tackle these issues through a multi-faceted approach, we must get upstream of the issues and see what is causing the problems. Then we can begin to make a strategic, comprehensive, and holistic response to eradicating the contributing factors. We must map out a plan that includes the public health framework of Prevention, Intervention, Education, and Restoration (PIER).