Posts Tagged ‘forced prostitution’

Swanee Hunt at Demand Abolition has written a compelling essay making the case against purchasing women and girls for sexual gratification.  Demand Abolition highlights the demand side of human trafficking.  They take the view that focusing on victim rescue & rehabilitation, and trafficker prosecution, will never solve the problem of slavery and commercial rape.  Without addressing the buyers of commercial sex (the demand side of the business transaction), the fight against sex slavery is a losing battle.  Hunt breaks the argument into 14 main points, carefully explaining every point, and summarizes each with a provocative statement, including:

  • Purchasing sex is an assault on the other’s dignity
  • Buying sex is inhumane
  • Most modern day prostitution is modern day slavery

Demand Abolition has a lot of good information about why there needs to be more emphasis on addressing demand in order to effectively fight human trafficking.  Customers of commercial sex (the johns) need to be educated and/or prosecuted in order to curb the winked-at practice of buying people’s bodies for sex.  The article is provocative, and you may not agree with everything you read there, but it’s worth looking at if you’re serious about ending sex trafficking.

I had already been pretty convinced that non-trafficked prostitution, whether legal or illegal, encouraged human trafficking because the market for commercial sex created an economic incentive to supply the sex workers as cheaply as possible.  But now, having read the article at Demand Abolition, I feel as if I can articulate the reasons better, and I have more reasons to consider that I didn’t really think of before.

Village Voice Media has an online ad section called Backpage.com.  One of the sections is “Adult”, and critics say that occasionally it’s used by sex traffickers to sell sex with minors.  Backpage.com defends the practice as free press.  They use the analogy that just because people sometimes send illegal material through the mail, we don’t shut down the post office.  They also claim that if they don’t sell the ads, someone else will.  Critics want them to either remove the adult section altogether, or require identification and photos for all Adult ads to prevent sexual abuse of minors.   It’s a similar situation to Craigslist, which last year shut down its paid adult services section after persistent pressure from a variety of sources.

The NY Times has an article on the subject titled Fighting Over Online Sex Ads.

Should advertisers be free to accept ads, when they don’t control the content, and when there is a significant risk that the ads may be used to sell sex with minors?

Is this a strictly legal issue, implicating freedom of the press?

Is this a moral issue where a business needs to respond to public pressure and proactively protect minors from being sexually trafficked?

What do you think of the analogies that Backpage is using?  Is there a similarity between someone using the Adult section of Backpage.com to advertise prostitution which turns out to be sex trafficking of a minor, and someone using the postal service to transport illegal material from one person to another?  Does it make a difference to you that the advertising is broadcast by an unidentified poster to all readers, while the post office is transporting material from one identifiable source to a specific addressee? 

What about the argument that if Backpage.com shuts down its Adult section, those people will advertise somewhere else?  For instance, when Craigslist shut down its paid adult services section, how many of those customers went to Backpage.com, and other such alternatives?  Is this similar to a community attempting to move an adult bookstore or theater out of a high traffic downtown neighborhood? 

What about the critics?  Is their request to have Backpage.com require positive ID of those advertising in the Adult section reasonable?  Would it help the situation? 

Do they have a right to have Backpage.com shut down the Adult section on moral grounds?  Is the possibility that minors might be trafficked sufficient to warrant shutting down the Adult section? 

What arguments are most persuasive to you?  Please add your thoughts and comments.

A young woman was trafficked into prostitution in Kolkata, India, and then rescued at age 16.  After more than a year of freedom and healing, she was victimized again, and trafficked into a brothel across the country to Mumbai.  It took rescuers more than four months to find her again in the vast red light district of an enormous city.  Watch the story at International Justice Mission’s web site.

Hey Book Person!  Welcome to the Human Trafficking blog.

Are you looking for books related to human trafficking, modern slavery, sex trafficking, bonded labor, and other related issues? I updated the “Books on Slavery and Human Trafficking” page to add two things:

NotForSale    Ending Slavery   River of Innocents

  1. Images of the books, because…. hey, we all like pictures, right?
  2. Links where you can purchase each of the books.  (I’ve included different book sites so they’re not all just links to Amazon or whatever.)

It can be overwhelming to read about human trafficking.  You can be paralyzed by the enormity of suffering and evil.  However, would it surprise you to know that a common theme in many of these books is HOPE?  These authors will tell you there is hope that slavery really will be history. Read the stories of people that are dedicating their lives to fighting the problem. Many of their accounts remind us that there is a God who cares about the suffering that oppressed victims endure.  You may find that you’ll begin to share their hope that the war against slavery is capable of being won within our generation.

My 1st request… if you’ve read any of the books in my list, please leave a comment on the “Have you read these books?” page and give your opinion of the book.  Yes! Release the inner NY Times book reviewer in you!  People are much more likely to buy a book when they’ve heard a genuine recommendation from someone like you.  (Full disclosure… I don’t make any money from the sale of the books or by anyone clicking on the links… I just want to connect people with helpful resources.)

And my 2nd request… if you know of any good books on modern slavery, human trafficking, sex trafficking, bonded labor, and related topics, let me know so I can include them in the list.

Thanks for visiting!  Click on the “Books on Slavery and Human Trafficking” link at the top of the page

-Carl

While most of the world is getting ready to host, compete, attend, watch, protest, or exploit the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a group of aboriginal women in Vancouver Stop Trafficking Newsletterare preparing to fight forced prostitution and sex trafficking connected with the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.  The June 2008 issue of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter highlights issues of prostitution and sex trafficking of aboriginal and indigenous women in Canada and the US.

In addition to informing the reader that aboriginal women in Canada are significant numbers of the prostitutes there, the writer of the lead article asserts that legalized prostitution not only doesn’t protect women prostitutes, but it increases their subjugation, and legitimizes the pimps and johns who keep them there.  Do you agree?

“A woman or child sold into prostitution can earn up to $150,000 annually for a crime boss,” according to a 2003 report by Melvin Levitsky titled Transnational Criminal Networks and International Security . No wonder the crime is so prevalent and attractive to criminals that it earns $10-12 Billion dollars a year!