It’s a common misconception that human trafficking in the U.S. involves strangers kidnapping young women and taking them overseas to sell them into sex slavery. Well, that does happen but that’s not the typical story.
Most often the young teen fall in love with a much older sweet-talking boyfriend who gives them the love that they never received at home. The man will prey on this vulnerability to make some money and the girl capitulates in order to continue the affection that had been given to her. Then before she know it she finds that her boyfriend has many other “girlfriends” whom he pits her against. Then she is turning to drugs to cope (typically offered by the pimp) and is getting arrested for prostitution and possession.
The worst part of this, I’d say, is that she has no way out of this lifestyle. Some do, most often by pimping out other girls until they can afford to leave. Which is just astounding. Even more disturbing, there is a growing trend for opioid addicted mothers to pimp out their kids for drug money.
I mention all this because I skipped the 2nd round of victim advocate training for women involved in sex trafficking. The main reason for that was that I was sick but afterwards I was surprised that did not regret not going.
I am a little relieved, to be honest. I remember after the first training being annoyed/upset by the church volunteers. I wrote a post about Christian exploitation Upon further reflection, I think I was disturbed about what I perceived to be church volunteers’ focus on morality.
Any decent person would be appalled at predators luring 13 year old girls into a life of drug addiction and prostitution. But what came across to me, upon further reflection, is that both the trainer and the church lady volunteers in discussion presented an image of what a respectable life would look like. This would include a middle-class lifestyle in a nuclear family in the suburbs and I had the sense that they’d project this idealist vision onto the girls.
Now, my brain has presented an objection to their (supposed) thoughts on the matter. Please note, this does not apply to these teen girls that the organization is trying to help, as clearly these girls are victims, but the whole thing made me ask myself the question:
Is prostitution wrong and should it be a crime?
What made me question this was hearing that these girls kept getting arrested and going to jail for prostitution.
This, as many many other issues, have to be processed through my new non-religious brain. Thinking through things and not just taking on the opinions of so-called spiritual authority.
So, in my Christian brain I would have thought well, sex is sacred and women who sell their bodies are essentially selling their souls and defiling themselves. And men who pay for sex are perverts who are giving themselves over to lust.
Being in a situation where I have to challenge my previous thinking is unsettling, but necessary. My old way of thinking was too narrow and does not fit me anymore.
I have decided that I don’t like prostitution. In that, I think it puts women in situations where they are vulnerable. I imagine the women having to have sex with people they are not attracted to, which is pretty upsetting in itself, or even worse being in situations where they are likely to get sexually assaulted. And of course, there is the issue of disease and potential pregnancy.
At the same time I have heard of women who genuinely enjoy sex work. Because they like the “power” it brings, or they really like sex and have a higher libido, or they just appreciate the good money. These are things I don’t generally consider because I think (though don’t know) that it’s very easy for women to be taken advantage of and abused in this field and so, in my mind, I feel very angry for women in these situations.
I wonder if perhaps these things were legal and destigmatized this might have a positive affect in reducing crime and that safety regulations might help women who are already doing this type of work. I think that the morality police will prevent this from happening, which I believe makes sex work more dangerous.
As a society, I think if we recognized women as sexual beings in their own right (not as temptresses for men), respected their autonomy and stopped being so prudish about sex in general we’d be way better off for it.
Additionally, I have to wonder if it were legal and not a stigma to pay for sex then maybe incels (involuntary celibate men) would stop killing women.