Friday Videos: “The Price of Sex” (Human Trafficking)

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Before you read today’s post, go here for a presentation about human trafficking. Click on each picture at the bottom and its story will unfold sort of like a slideshow with sound.

Human trafficking is a huge problem. Procurers prey on young girls in impoverished countries who are looking for a better life. They promise them jobs in cities like Moscow and Dubai and they arrange for forged passports (which usually give them earlier birth dates, because many of these girls are just teens). Once they get the girls, they tell them they have to work off the debts they’ve incurred (the fake passports, transportation to the new country, room and board, etc.) by becoming prostitutes. They guard them and keep them locked up in houses and apartments and force them to take on as many clients a day as the pimps want them to. They have no say-so, no freedom, no contact with those back home. They just disappear, some of them permanently.

It’s a hard criminal activity to fight. The girls are in the new country illegally so no one even knows where or who they are. If you paid off their debts in order to free them the pimps would just get more girls to force into prostitution. There need to be stricter laws with severe penalties for the procurers and pimps, but more than anything there needs to be international cooperation. That’s what makes it so hard to prosecute: which country is going to be responsible for prosecuting the cases. Not to mention that the perpetrators have to be found in the first place.

Unfortunately, many people see prostitution as a victimless crime. They assume that the prostitutes are in the life voluntarily, and they look down on them and figure they get what they bargained for. But the girls who have been forced into prostitution are invisible to the outside world. No one even knows the true numbers involved, as if it has to be a lot in order for it to become a priority. But one girl forced into prostitution is one too many.

The feminist movement needs to realize that for some women feminist principles are a moot point. Many women just want a life, period. What feminists should be fighting is the mind-set that says that it’s okay to use and abuse women. Feminists need to educate the public about ways that women are enslaved and oppressed. But they have to be careful to not go overboard: many people distrust feminism because it seems to call just about anything oppression. For instance, they’re fed up with the feminist approach that says that marriage, motherhood, staying at home and being religious are all oppressive situations .

However, I don’t think anyone would argue that human trafficking is not oppressive. It’s the worst example of how women can be used–like commodities. We need to find ways to fight the traffickers and to help the women. Watch the presentation. These are real women who got caught in horrible situations. And they are just a few among many.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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