Human trafficking is slavery; it is not an occupation. It is the use of force or fraud to cause people to do labor for the perpetrator’s profit. It is illegal and a violation of human rights. Like the drug business, it is illegal but flourishes because it is easy for the “dealer” to make quick cash off of their “product”. Millions around the world are human trafficking victims, most victims being women and children. The victims are human beings, but are traded and sold for profit like Pokémon cards. How every victim is lured into this dangerous business differs. Some victims are kidnaped and forced into working against their will while others are tricked into the business with false hopes of citizenship, marriage, or money. They are caught by this fishing pole and are stuck on the hook, unable to get off. These victims need the world’s assistance to get off the fishing pole hook and swim back home before they are thrown into the net left to flap around until they die. To help, what the world must first do is to focus on the most demanded and harmful form of human trafficking-sex trafficking. Human sex trafficking is forcing or tricking a person into sexual labor. Sex trafficking occurs all over the world, in every country. It could occur in the house next door to your house, but you may never know because you are not looking for it. We need to start looking for it because it is an infection to the world. It causes the spread of diseases, it breaks up marriages, it leads to the murder of many innocent women, it creates aggression and violent behavior in some men, inequality between men and women, unacceptable societal norms, and battered women. Because sex trafficking possesses so many unique problems– disease, battered women, violence, broken families, and economic issues– people find it hard to find a solution to combat the problem. But, the most effective way to combat sex trafficking is to attack the demand, the customers, because if the demand did not exist sex trafficking would cease to exist.
The demand of sex trafficking spreads diseases which hurts the sex trafficking victims and the customers’ innocent families. Not only are these men at risk of catching sexual diseases from the sex trafficking victims, they increase the risk by not wearing condoms. In a study in 2010, titled “Offer Of Financial Incentives For Unprotected Sex In The Context Of Sex Work”, 70% of the sex trafficking victims that participated said that they have been offered more money to have unprotected sex with the men (Johnston). The disease spread is not the sex trafficking victim’s fault. It is the men’s fault, for they want to have unprotected sex because they believe the sex will feel better without a condom. Since sex trafficking victims have customers who refuse to wear protection, the victims end up spreading diseases. The sex trafficking victims are incredibly vulnerable to disease because they are not protected in the intercourse with customers. The sex trafficking victims are hurt more by the unprotected sex, for they are not given time off to go to the hospital and diseases acquired from unprotected sex go untreated. Not only are the victims catching diseases from the unprotected sex, they can end up dying from untreated medical conditions and problems they gain from the sex.
But, the spread of disease extends further than just the sex trafficking victim and the customer, the family is also involved. The men go out and they choose to have unprotected sex with these women, who have diseases from other customers, and then they bring the diseases home to their wives or girlfriends. But, not only are they harming themselves by having such risky sex, they are harming their loved ones. In the article “Large Percentage of HIV-Positive Women in Arab Countries Contracted Virus From Their Husbands”, they stated how “80 percent of HIV-positive women in the Middle East contracted the virus from their husbands who were involved with sex trafficking victims” (Kaiser Family Foundation). Innocent women get diseases because of their husbands who cheat on them. Because the wife trusted the husband, they too contract this disease their husband contracted from his adulterous adventures. Catching a disease can ruin the wife’s life. For starters, they can infect future children they want to have, for the disease can be passed on to a child through genetics, a baby with a STD positive parent can be born STD positive as well. Aside from their unborn children contracting an STD, their alive children can also catch an STD. Their children can even be infected with an STD, for STDs are not just transmitted through sexual intercourse, sexual diseases are also transmitted through blood and saliva. If their kids come in contact with any of their bodily fluids, they too are doomed, not just the wives. The unlucky ones who catch the STD, from the unfaithful father/husband, are also sometimes stuck with this disease forever, for most of the STD’s have no cures, just treatments. Innocent people are stuck with these diseases for their loved one’s infidelity. The men are not just infecting themselves, they are infecting their innocent families. If the demand of sex trafficking continues to exist, there will be more men who get infected with disease and there will be more innocent families who will also test positive even though they played no role in the infidelity, and did not even know the infidelity was going on.
The customers are hazardous because they believe the women are their property and this belief leads to violent behavior. Many of the sex trafficking victims endure abuse from their customers, the very unlucky ones are murdered. In the article “Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Girls in Mexico” Acharya discusses how “the forms of violence, abuse, and risk that trafficked women and girls experience force them into a marginalized condition in terms of physical, mental, and sexual health”. The women are beaten terribly by the men they give sexual services to. They are both mentally and physically abused. This violence is detrimental because it creates battered women out of the sex trafficking victims. Women lose their mental stability because of the animal-like experiences they endured. This causes them to view all men as harmful men. They lose trust and put up a guard. They are afraid to be in love because they are afraid of men. They never learn what love is because of the type of violent relationships they have. The violence also is harmful because of the physical toll the victims endure. Women are sometimes beaten so bad that they have scars and wounds forever. Some women have probably had to get medical treatment because of certain wounds. The casualties involved in sex trafficking are harmful not just because of the mental and physical toll, but also simply because pain does not feel well. A body is sacred, a body is fragile. There is only so much that a body can take.
Archarya also talks about how “trafficked women and girls suffer a wide range of physical and sexual violence, such as beaten with objects, sexual and verbal abuse, and cigarette burns, and are threatened with murder”. The women are abused in many different forms like the quote says., things from cigarette burns to murder. They live and work in dangerous environments where they have the chance of every day being their last day. This violence could also be harmful because it may create violent women. Sometimes when a person is beaten their whole life, they retaliate. The women may become dangerous just like the men who abused them. This could lead to harm to the communities because they may just begin to kill innocent people they see out on the streets. It could even lead to suicide. Many of the sex trafficking victims are held hostage in rooms and can not leave. They would have no one to take their anger out on and would take it out on themselves. The violence would create angry women because they are weak when they are abused, but if they had the power to seek revenge, they would do it no matter who it is with. It would not matter if it was a customer or not. It is also harmful because it makes them reach death quicker. They are physically and mentally worn down. They end up dying from mental diseases or from physical wear. Many of the victims end up dying from the abuse of their customers. It may not directly be murder, but the mental and physical abuse leads to the death of many of these women. The violence is a heavy burden on the sex trafficking victims.
Also, the problem is not just the demand engaging in abusive behavior with the sex trafficking victims, another problem is that they get away with this inappropriate behavior. They get away with a slap on the wrist while the sex trafficking victims are treated like the criminals.They are protected apparently, and the money is their security guard. In a letter by Heather Grzankowski, a social work major, she discusses how “five women’s faces were plastered all over the Internet and newspaper… They weren’t the only ones who committed a crime, their clients’ faces weren’t shown, yet they committed a crime too. This is allowing their clients to get away with the law”. What Grzankowski is discussing in her letter is how a group was caught engaging in sexual services with five sex trafficking victims but only the women, the victims, were criminalized and arrested. The men received no punishment for their actions, for the media didn’t even plaster their faces and publicly humiliate them. The johns, who wanted the sex and paid for the sex, get away with no punishment. The customers get a “get out of jail free card” instead of being punished for their actions. By letting men get away with paying for sex, they believe they are doing nothing wrong. When a person gets away with their actions, it makes them more likely to continue with the actions, even if they are inappropriate or illegal.
Sex trafficking is illegal, yet the busted criminals got off the hook with a light slap on the hand. They protected the criminals when they should be punishing them. Leaving these criminals out there to keep buying prostitutes is going to lead to more and more sex trafficking, more and more demand. Letting them get away with buying sex leads to more problems. It will make the men buying sex think every action is protected. That is why the men abuse the sex trafficking victims. The women face threats, abuse, and sometimes are even murdered. This also leads to men becoming aggressive and controlling. Men throw their money at these women and believe the women have to do what they tell them to do, and because the men get away with it the women do have to do what they tel them to do. Giving men a painless slap on the wrist harms the victims because it creates violent men and it also makes it seem okay to buy sex. The more the men get away with their inappropriate actions, the more harmful it becomes for the sex trafficking victims. They have nothing to fear, nothing to lose, no consequences for their actions, so they engage in the sex trafficking business.
If men caught buying sex had their cars impounded, they would be less likely to get involved with sex trafficking victims. The stereotype about men being attached to their cars has been proven true. A Scottish study reported that “69 percent of men respectively would be deterred [from paying for sex] if their vehicles were impounded” (Home). It would also be hard for them to explain to their parents or wives what happened to their car or to tell them the reason why it was impounded. It would be like hiding receipts from a wife about secret purchases, then she suspects something is wrong (when your car is missing) and she would want to know why, but you would not be able to tell her. So, to avoid exposure, they would just stop seeking illegal sex. This solution would be beneficial for the globe because it would cause the demand of sex trafficking victims to decrease because no men would want to risk getting their car impounded. The fear would keep them from this illegal activity. If enough of them care enough about their car to stay away from the sex trafficking business, the supplier will eventually lose his customers, lose his demand, and be forced to find a new “product” to sale to make a quick profit. The demand is what makes the business flourish and if they are going up against laws, they know they are going to lose so they just stay away and leave the pimp to fend for himself.
Another large step in combating sex trafficking is to give jail time to the men caught paying for sex.The men would not want to risk getting in trouble with the law and would restrain from buying sexual services. In the article “Why Swedes Believe they Got it Right on Prostitution”, they discussed how Sweden criminalized the purchase of sex and saw the amount of sex trafficking occurring reduce by two-thirds (Thompson). Instead of focusing on the pimps or the victims, they decided to focus on what really makes the sex trafficking business flourish-the johns. Just by making it illegal to purchase sex, they saw an incredible drop in sex trafficking in their country. If more of the customers were in jail instead of slithering around for victims in the streets, this would help the women involved in sex trafficking. They would have less customers to deal with on a daily basis. The greatest harm to the women are not the pimps, but the customers. If they had less strife to deal with from their customers they would begin to restore their mental and physical health. They would no longer be beaten, threatened, or murdered. Having less customers would help them heal and if they are well enough they may even be able to get out of the business.
With the men in jail and no longer de-humanizing them, the victims would begin to reconsider their value and would try to find a better life for themselves. But, we need more than just saying men will get jail time. We need someone who will enforce the criminalization of purchasing sexual services. With the help of the law enforcement, the decrease in sex trafficking will last for a long time because they would be in jail. In “Why Swedes Believe they Got it Right on Prostitution”, an officer in the Prostitution unit of the Stockholm police says: “I think I have arrested about 700 men since 2007…They are taking a huge risk… actually buying another human being.We will go after them.” (Thompson). Giving the men caught buying sex jail time, would cause the sex trafficking business to go out of business because the men would be too afraid to take the risk and engage in illegal activities because of the fear of prison. Because the police are responsible for arresting the men caught buying sex, they hold a large role in combating sex trafficking. The police help combat sex trafficking, for they arrest men caught buying sex, which keeps the demand under control. They keep the men off of the streets that hurt the victims and they also can keep the women safe. Police officers possess the power to help the women get out of the horrible lifestyle. They can rescue the women and escort them to shelters, safe places, or even help them get back to their families. The police have power over the pimps, for they can overpower the pimp and save the women from the sex trafficking lifestyle.
If men caught buying sex were publicly exposed there would be a decrease in sex trafficking because the men would not want to risk ruining their reputations. If men were forced to register as offenders or be publicly exposed, there will be a guarantee they will not return to the sex trafficking business after serving jail time because of fear of humiliation. Johns love sex trafficking because it is illegal, so it is underground and easy for them to stay out of the spotlight. But, if caught and exposed, they would crumble to the ground because they have wives, children, jobs, and lives they go back to once they pay the sex trafficking victim and leave. A Scottish study was conducted on over 100 men, age 18 to 77, who have participated in illegal brothels. Of all of the survey participants, “83 percent of the men said they would be deterred from buying sex if their photographs or names were displayed on billboards following conviction or if their details were published in local newspapers” (Home). Just being exposed is enough to keep men from engaging in the sex trafficking business. They want to keep these illegal activities secret. This would help the sex trafficking victims. It would help the sex trafficking victims because they would have less customers top deal with, for there would be less men looking for service. Less men they have to deal with would mean the less abuse they would suffer. Having less men having sex with them would decrease their chances of being beaten by a customer. There would be less customers, so the probability of being beaten would decrease. Because they are less likely to be beaten when men are deterred by exposure, they would be healthier. They would have clean, wound- free bodies. This would impact their mental health also. They would not be suffering as much mental abuse. They may be able to restore their mental stability when they are being abused less. They would be able to keep a clear, safe mind because they would not constantly be screamed at, yelled at, and mentally tortured by men. It would occur less, for there would be less men. Since it would occur less, it would have no permanent impact on the women.
The study also revealed “77 percent of men admitted they would deter from paying for sex if they were ‘named and shamed’” (Home). By “named and shamed” they mean to have to register themselves as sex offenders like the ordinary sex offenders and child molesters have to do. After all, they are technically sex offenders, rapists, and child molesters. Paying for sex does not mean they are not the same as rapists and child molesters who do not pay their victims, and most Johns are engaging in sexual intercourse with women against their will and a significant amount of the men are having sex with children. Because of this, they would be forced to register like the ordinary sex offenders and child molesters. If this idea of “naming and shaming” men buying sexual services was enforced, there would be a dramatic decrease in the sex trafficking population because men are not willing to risk their reputations and innocence. Being exposed would make paying for sex wrong and immoral, and men would be paying the consequences for their actions. They would no longer feel superior because they paid for sex, they would be knocked off of their high horse by exposure. They would have consequences to go along with their actions, and this would cause them to think twice about their actions. They would have more at risk in this situation, now that they are vulnerable to being publicly exposed. This would cause men to become more cautious with their involvement, or men would just completely cease their involvement with the business because the risk of exposure overpowers their sexual urges. Without even putting them in jail or giving them fines, the men would surrender just by being exposed. There is one thing johns treasure more than sex- their reputations.
Sex trafficking would cease to exist if there was no demand for the business. Any business is successful when there are customers who are interested in the “product” they are providing. That is why it is important to attack the demand of the business, for the demand of sex trafficking is the root issue in the hazardous sex trafficking business. It is possible to make a difference in sex trafficking, for it has been proven through studies the type of results that would occur if certain laws and punishments were placed on the men buying sex. Men would stay away from the business if they had to register as offenders, if their cars were impounded, or if the law enforcement was actively seeking to arrest the johns. Sweden has proven attacking the demand is effective. Since they have made it illegal to pay for sex, they have saw a two-third decrease in the amount of sex trafficking going on. Of course one person can’t do something a country can do, one person can not make a law or arrest people. But you do have the power to make a difference. By simply knowing paying for illegal sex is wrong, knowing women are not the property of men, and by making sure your family or peers are not involved with sex trafficking is a difference. The key is to start off in your own homes, in your communities. It is important to address sex trafficking, or human trafficking in general, because the problem is further escalating and violating these persons’ rights. It is 2014. There should be no forms of slavery, there should be no inequality, there should be no violation of rights, there should be no humans being treated as objects, there should be no children experiencing things they should not even know about, there should not be people stolen and stripped away from their families and homes, there should be no human trafficking… There would be no human trafficking if we brought these potential solutions into reality.