I was reading THIS article on the New York Times website yesterday during a performance at work, which talks about the boom in human trafficking and prostitution in Spain. I know I always get really worked up about a multitude of different disgusting things that humans do to other humans in this world, and I know I like to rant about injustice and despicable actions on here, but what better forum to go on and on about these type of issues than here? Assuming that at least one person reads this and passes this on to another person and so on and so forth, then at least one extra person in this world is talking about this.
The article reads just as any other article would read, gives you the details, the facts and the story. But there was one sentence that really got me thinking, and raging in my head: "On a recent evening, one young man from Paris stood in the parking lot of Club Paradise, bragging about his sexual exploits while his friends looked on. The women, he said, did not talk about whether they were being forced to have sex.
“Maybe,” he said. “But I think they are having a good time.” "
OK, let's take a step back. I'm all for having the right to choose what I want to do with my life. If a woman wants to be a prostitute, a porn star, a courtesan, a stripper, then it is her choice to make it into her career and I fully respect that. I am sure there are many women who are happy with this choice, as I am also sure there are many who aren't (as with any types of profession). However, I am also sure that for many women it is a last resort, or, even worse, they have been forced into it and are technically slaves to the industry. We hear about these stories all the time, women and children who are sold into the sex industry, forced to prostitute themselves, never actually seeing any of the money themselves as they are also forced to give it all up. It's a widespread issue, in every country. SO how does one differentiate from the women who are actually selling themselves willingly, and those who have been forced into sexual slavery? How does one regulate this?
In Spain, for example, like in The Netherlands, prostitution is legal. Pimping is illegal, so the traffickers handle the women by threatening them with their lives and/or their family's lives. Women are smuggled into countries under the impression that they will be able to find a job and a better life, money to send back home, but when they find out the truth it is already too late to turn back. The police in Spain cannot arrest prostitutes, so if a prostitute is seeking a way out she needs to actively go to the police for help. This is where the circle never ends, the police don't have enough resources to help the women, and even if they did, the women live in constant fear of their lives.
The only reason why this industry exists to this extent is because of the demand for it. The supply follows the demand, and, according to the article above, the demand is getting higher and higher. I suppose the most simple of solutions would be to cut off the demand, that way the endless money brought in by prostitution would dwindle and effectively cut off the monetary benefits that the traffickers currently enjoy. Outlawing prostitution would probably not be as effective as it would drive it underground, making it even more difficult to help enslaved women. At least while they are outside in the open there is a way to at least monitor what is going on. So I think what my main question is... Is why on earth the demand is so high? Do most men looking to pay for sex really assume that the woman with the foreign accent selling herself on the street corner is doing this because she actually enjoys it? Do people get a thrill out of paying for something that I am sure they wouldn't have any trouble getting for free in a nightclub or a bar (although I suppose they would have to at least try to seduce a woman in a bar, making it more of an effort...). I just don't get it. It's common knowledge that there are so many women who have been forced into sexual slavery all over the world, so doesn't anyone stop to think that they are actually participating in this? Do they just not care?
Prostitution has always existed, and will most probably continue to always exist, but the fact that sexual slavery exists, in such an open and widespread fashion, in this day and age, makes me so angry, and helpless at the same time. Oh, and it also exists here in the US. It's just not as visible.
For more information on human trafficking and what you can do to help:
On The Ground - Nicholas Kristof's NYT Blog