A River Connecting All Countries: Sex Trafficking

by V
via Flickr

via Flickr

As I was reading this article, I thought back to a conversation I had with a friend once, about sex trafficking. About the tactics that are used to keep women from getting help from the outside or from leaving, or from refusing to have sex.  The scare tactics involved. The punishments involved. These are not secret tactics, many books and documentaries explicitly describe this faux and never-ending “debt” these women are told they must pay off. Yet many people don’t seem to know about it, despite this information being easily accessible in print and in televised and movie forms. They are at libraries, they are on regular television channels that you can get via simple cable.

The problem is that  it’s something that’s hardly ever covered in popular media. And if it is, it’s likely just a small little blurb that nobody pays attention to, waiting to hear about the murder in the next town over, perpetrated by a member of an ethnic minority group.

I’m not trying to  say that the murder should get less coverage than the sex trafficking, but I think they should get equal time. It’s just that nobody wants to talk much about why and how trafficking happens. It’s the elephant in the room. People sound shocked when they talk about it, like it’s a curiosity (read: it’s uncommon; rarely happens) even though it’s sad and tragic. But, it is real. It happens in many countries, some more than others. It happens in African countries, it happens in Asian countries, in European countries, and, yes, it happens all too often in the United States.

The media needs to get more involved in covering these cases, rather than just pretending they don’t exist or are not as prevalent as they really are. This is an issue that primarily hits women and young girls, but ANYONE can be tricked or even kidnapped and trafficked for sexual slavery. Anyone. Not even white women are exempt.

This particular article is about sex trafficking in West Africa but, make no mistake, this happens everywhere. It just doesn’t get the amount of attention that we ought to be giving it. It’s scary how easy it is for this to happen to a woman, even educated women. It isn’t just a danger that exists in another country, away from us. It isn’t just a danger that exists if we leave our country and go to another one. This danger is ever-present. The tactics used by the traffickers are pretty much universal. Would you recognize it if someone tried to trick you into it?

That isn’t to say that all women should shut themselves up in their homes, never leave the house, and certainly never travel, without a man there to keep you safe. That’s nonsense. But, I think it would happen a lot less if we started paying REAL attention to sex trafficking as a universal problem and taking real steps to combat it. For every trafficking ring that gets busted, you can bet there are a lot more that never do. Numbers can be reduced, instances can be reduced. But, we have to actually take this problem seriously if it’s ever going to go away completely. Unfortunately, as a society, we are not.

All countries need to take this seriously. As countries and as societies. And, I really don’t feel that that is happening. Until it does, however, there is no real chance at combating the very serious and terrible crime of sex trafficking.

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