Opinion

Prostitution: An Open Wound On Women’s Dignity (Part II)

(continued from last edition)

Having briefly exposed the monstrous nature of human trafficking, we shall now delve deeply into prostitution which been variously designated as “sex work’, “commercial sex and vice”, and “modern day slavery”.

1. THE SEX INDUSTRY
Today people talk of “sex industry” because they see prostitution as business, as trade. The sex industry (also called the sex trade) consists of businesses which either directly or indirectly provide sex-related “products” and “services” or adult entertainment. The industry includes activities involving direct provision of sex-related “acts”, such as prostitution, strip clubs, host and hostess clubs and sex-related pastimes, such as pornography, sex-oriented men’s magazines, sex movies, sex toys and fetish and other paraphernalia. Sex channels for television and pre-paid sex movies for video on demand, are all part of the sex industry, as are adult movie theaters, sex shops, and strip clubs. In all these “businesses”, women are sexually trafficked or choose to engage in prostitution. These women are designated them as tarts, escorts, hustlers, scarlet women, tramps, temptresses, dirty girls, stripper, cam girls, perverts, show girls, bitches, etc. These terminologies indicate the ignoble nature of prostitution.

The foremost “business” in this so-called sex industry is prostitution which, according to Lia Claire Scholl, takes many forms. Some women solicit for sex on the streets, where they stroll through an area known for prostitution looking for “clients”. Others through back pages of publications, on websites known for trading sex, and on their own personal websites, which may include a picture, a description of their appearance and contact information. Still others go through agencies, which can be listed in phone books and online. Others have indoor establishments such as massage parlours or brothels. Some go to clients’ homes. Some of these girls have managers or are independent.

Pornography is another aspect of the so-called industry. It is legal in many countries: porn actors and actresses, porn magazines, porn websites, and porn events abound. Because it is not illegal, there are some mainstream actors and actresses who have started out in porn film. Many of them are famous, plus there are big movie porn starts who have sex in movies; although sometimes, they are acting like they are having sex. But, most often, porn stars are not acting. They are doing. Then, there are strip clubs, which are also legal like pornography. The club owners dictate what actions to perform, which also includes nudity, drugs, and alcohol. There are also cam girls who use the Internet; phone sex operators, while others specialize in what is called “fetish work” – using all sorts of objects. Some are “sugar babies” or escorts. In all these “businesses” in sex industry, women are sexually enslaved and their dignity attacked.

3. SEX TOURISM
Tourism is travel for pleasure or business, which may be international or within the traveler’s country. Today, sex has become a part of tourism. Sexual tourism is a travel planned specifically for the purpose of sex, generally to a country where prostitution is legal and sometimes where it is not legal.

3.1. Sex Tourism: What Is It?
The World Tourism Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, defines sex tourism as “trips organized from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination” In other words, it is an activity that entails individuals engaging in both national and international travel in order to participate in sexual activity considered to be either illegal, unethical, or a combination of the two in those individuals’ respective nations or countries of residence. Sex tourism takes place in hundreds of countries throughout the world as prostitutes can be found in most countries of the world. The sexual encounter may be with an adult or minor, man, woman, transsexual or transvestite. Both me and women travel for such purposes. Sex tourism takes place in hundreds of countries throughout the world. It must involve an exchange of money or material goods for a sexual act. So, it is a travel that is well coordinated. Similar to adventure tourism in which a person travels to a country solely for the purpose of participation in a safari, sexual tourism occurs when a man or a woman travels to another locale, either foreign or within one’s own country, for the sole purpose of sexual gratification with a local individual in exchange for money or goods. Domestic sex tourism involves travel within the same country, while trans-national sex tourism involves travel across national borders.

According to Lovelock and Lovelock, romance (in general) and sexual encounters (more specifically) are a key factor in world travel. Tourist markets have exploited this motivation for travel through prostitution. This industry of sex work is extremely profitable, and the tourist market’s role in sex tourism raises questions about its moral and legal standing. Key factors in the issue of sex tourism are child sex tourism and the trafficking of women and girls for use as prostitutes. It can be formally or informally arranged, and local sex workers in the tourist destination are often migrants. These migrants can be either voluntary migrants, or trafficked prostitutes. Sex tourism is characterized by a disparity between the motivations of the tourist and the prostitute—the tourist has disposable capital which can be used to pay for sexual “services” as well as a number of other experiences associated with travel and tourism (leisure, recreation, sightseeing, etc.); conversely, the prostitute is usually living in poverty and providing sexual acts because it appears to be the best option available to her.

3.2: Sex Tourism: Unholy Benefits
Sex tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry that globally supports a workforce estimated in the millions (as we have already seen), that also benefits service industries such as the airline, taxi, restaurant and hotel industries. As usual, majority of those “sold” in this industry are women. Most research written on sexual tourism insists that there are no benefits and nothing good can come of it. Child exploitation and human trafficking are used to prove the damage sexual tourism can bring to a country. An author suggests that “sex tourism is the forced rape of a third world country by that of a first world country”. Another compares it to a “new brand of colonialism”. Why are the wealthy men from wealthy countries travelling to poor countries for sex, when they have women in their own countries? Yet another researcher evaluates sex tourism as an intersection of capitalism and patriarchy. The common theme of the studies portrays sexual tourism as harmful and villainous. However, a soul-searching question arises: if sex tourism is bad, why does it persist and there are no laws against it in any country unless when caught with a minor? Government officials, actually support it because it helps to bring prosperity and economic wealth into otherwise poor countries.

4. SEX TRAFFICKING

4.1 What is Sex Trafficking
Trafficking for prostitution and sexual exploitation is one of the most prevalent forms of human trafficking worldwide. Accordingly, the State of Minnesota (USA) defines sex trafficking as “receiving, recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing, or obtaining by any means an individual to aid in the prostitution of the individual or receiving profit or anything of value, knowing or having reason to know it is derived from sex trafficking.” The victims are objectified and literally treated as merchandise. Many are transported from poor and developing countries to more prosperous countries, yet sometimes trafficking occurs within a country’s own borders. Trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation is, thus, part of human trafficking. This involves women who are forced to work as prostitutes (against their will), and these female prostitutes are forced to work under conditions which they cannot choose. Sex trafficking, therefore, is human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery, especially of women.

4.2 The Sex Traffickers
The perpetrators of this crime (the traffickers, johns, pimps) don’t fit a single stereotype. They represent every social, ethnic, and racial group. Some perpetrators are involved with local gangs, others are members of larger nationwide gangs and criminal organizations, and some have no affiliation with any one group. Sex traffickers can also be women – in fact, many women run established rings around this country, Nigeria. They promise a high-paying job, a loving relationship, or new and exciting opportunities and then use physical and psychological violence to control them. Traffickers can be lone individuals or part of extensive criminal networks, with the common thread of exploiting people for profit.

4.3 The Victims of Sex Trafficking
Victims of human trafficking are frequently lured by false promises of a lucrative job, stability, education, or a loving relationship. Victims can be men or women, adults or children, foreign nationals or U.S. citizens. While they share the trait of vulnerability, victims have diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, varied levels of education, and may be documented or undocumented. As defined under U.S. law, victims of human trafficking can be divided into three populations:
· Children under age 18 induced into commercial sex.
· Adults aged 18 or over induced into commercial sex through force, fraud, or coercion.
· Children and adults induced to perform labor or services through force, fraud, or coercion.

Today, the business of human sex trafficking is much more organized and violent. Not only is human sex trafficking slavery but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. In fact, it is a booming business. The victims (women and young girls) are sold to traffickers, may be locked up in rooms or brothels for weeks or months, drugged, terrorized, and raped repeatedly. These continual abuses make it easier for the traffickers to control their victims. The captives are so afraid and intimidated that they rarely speak out against their traffickers, even when faced with an opportunity to escape.

4.4 How Sex Traffickers Recruit Victims
There are many ways of recruiting the victims of sex trafficking. Partners against Child Trafficking (PACT) presents detailed ways of the recruitment in their website. I represent it here. It will be an eye opener to parents. Personal social networks and relationships are a powerful recruitment tool. Traffickers commonly recruit friends of family members, friends of other girls they have trafficked, and others in their neighborhood. Sometimes, they will throw “turnout parties” within their social network to recruit. They also recruit in many places such as malls, transit stations, beaches, gas stations, campuses, clubs, and restaurants. Schools, malls, and transit locations in particular are associated with minors. Many traffickers engage in romantic or physical relationships with the recruits to appeal to their victims’ emotional and economic needs. They use a sort of bait and switch tactic, building a relationship with the victim, then asking the victim to engage in commercial sex to help the two of them accomplish their dreams of being together. Advertisements for recruitment often pose as a legitimate employment opportunity, calling for “models” and presenting the opportunity for a photo shoot. Traffickers also search existing online advertisements on sites for women and girls who might be working independently. The traffickers offer the economically disadvantaged economic security. For traffickers, prominently displaying their wealth was key to recruiting with many citing their outward displays of wealth as a primary means of attraction for victims. Girls already involved with the traffickers are often made to help with recruiting, especially from train stations, bus stops, bus stations, clubs, detention facilities, group homes, continuation schools, homeless shelters, and from social media.

(to be continued)

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