Today is national, shine a light on slavery day. For those of you who do not know what that is, go to http://enditmovement.com/ and check it out
Hello everyone. First, let me say thank you to all of you who have been keeping up with all my posts. I know some of these posts are hard to read and difficult to digest, so I appreciate you all still reading. Most of my posts so far have been about the issue of human trafficking and what is happening around the world. I hope most of you understand that this is a serious issue. My next series of blogs is going to be about how our everyday actions actually help to feed the human trafficking system set in place and how we can stop. My first talk will be on the issue of porn.
This is a harder topic for me to write about as I have personally struggled with watching porn in my life. Having struggled with it personally and in the context of human trafficking, I have come to understand the severe ways porn actually destroys our relationships and our society. We hear about the horrors of human trafficking and we are disgusted by the system that oppresses millions of people around the world. At the same time, our culture accepts pornography and openly defends people in their rights to watch porn. To quote covenant eyes, “the dichotomy between sex trafficking and the realities of pornography is a serious misconception that needs to be addressed”. Porn drives the demand for sex trafficking and we need to talk about it.
According to Shared Hope International’s report (https://sharedhope.org/store/demand-printed-book/) on the demand for sex trafficking, pornography is the primary gateway to the purchase of humans for commercial sex. The word pornography is from the Greek words porne, meaning “sexual immorality”, and graphos, meaning “writings”. It is a representation of a commercial sexual exploitation as you are obtaining sex through means other than a relationship. It creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify as it feeds on an innate drive in all humans. In a very explicit way, porn can act as an advertisement for trafficking as people are enticed by the fill they get by watching porn. In addition, pimps and traffickers often use pornographic images of their victims as advertisements for their products. In the same way that a drug produces a short lived pleasure, pornography creates a drug-like addiction which distorts the individuals view on sexuality. Instead of viewing sexual experience in its usual context, the user experiences sexual experience on demand. That ability to fill a demand becomes more and more difficult as the high becomes less and less. Victor Malarek once wrote, “The message is clear: if prostitution is the main act, porn is the dress rehearsal.”
In addition to porn helping to enhance the demand for sex trafficking, sex trafficking victims are also exploited in the production of pornography. Many of the sex trafficking victims around the world today who are being exploited are mainly being used for the production of pornography. If you refer to one of the videos posted at the bottom of this post, a woman gives testimony to her husband actually selling her for porn. Porn actors and actresses are often construed as no different from those who chose to have any other career in the entertainment industry. We stray away from the idea that these people may be victims of sex trafficking.
Lastly, the production of porn is itself an act of trafficking. Case after case, people have described that porn was advertised in a beautiful way and an easy way for someone to make money, but nearly every person who gets involved in the industry describes the fraud in the system. Most of them do not know what they are agreeing to until after their agreement is made. After that point, there is no way of getting away. Pornographers are unlike other pimps as they learn to coerce their victims to get into the industry and legally make them stay. Pornographers are receiving direct monetary benefits for providing sexual acts. So why is it that we say that prostitution is illegal but pornography is not? According to U.S. federal law, many instances of the production and consumption of pornography can constitute as sex trafficking as there is a large amount of force, fraud, or coercion involved. It is discomforting to know that our legal system tolerates and accepts certain types of sex trafficking
I will end with the words of Covenant Eyes, “Having understood the interconnectedness of pornography and sex trafficking, we must resolve to no longer erect false distinctions between pornography and sex trafficking. In seeking justice for those who are commercially sexually exploited, accepting and using pornography is not an option. It’s time to understand the reality of pornography and act accordingly.”
Here is a free e-book you can download to know more:
**For the sake of space, this blog post is only focused on the United States and their legislation. Describing the legislation of the rest of the world is extensive and important, but for another time.
The culture of the United States has pushed for the need to fight against human trafficking. As a result, the people have pressed their representatives in Congress to pass laws to help fight human trafficking. In April of 2015, the 114th Congress passed domestic human trafficking legislation to combat this severe issue. To summarize what they did:
“Legislation aimed at combating trafficking in persons (TIP) is a top item on the legislative agenda for the 114th Congress. TIP is of significant interest to the United States as a serious human rights concern, and it is believed to be one of the most prolific areas of contemporary criminal activity. TIP is both an international and domestic crime that involves violations of labor, public health, and human rights standards, as well as criminal law. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA)—most recently reauthorized in March 2013 (Title XII of P.L. 113-4)—is the primary law that addresses human trafficking. Domestically, anti-TIP efforts provided under the TVPA include protection for victims, the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses, and education of the public… As human trafficking issues intersect with many different policy areas (e.g., immigration, child welfare, the criminal justice system, missing and exploited youth), legislation to address human trafficking is varied. This is illustrated by the panoply of bills that have recently passed the House. For example, the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015 (H.R. 350), Trafficking Awareness Training for Health Care Act of 2015 (H.R. 398), and the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act (H.R. 514), as passed by the House, would address interagency coordination, efficiency, and best practices as they relate to combating human trafficking. The Human Trafficking Prevention Act (H.R. 357) and the Human Trafficking Detection Act of 2015 (H.R. 460), as passed by the House, would enhance training for officials to help identify victims of trafficking. The International Megan’s Law to Prevent Demand for Child Sex Trafficking (H.R. 515), as passed by the House, would create a new center in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would be responsible for notifying the destination country of international travel by child-sex offenders, where appropriate. Several other bills, as passed by the House, would strengthen the federal and state responses to trafficking through a variety of service systems. H.R. 246, To Improve the Response to Victims of Child Sex Trafficking, would ensure that reports to a federally funded tipline of sexually exploited children can include children who are victims of sex trafficking. The Enhancing Services for Runaway and Homeless Youth Victims for Youth Trafficking Act of 2015 (H.R. 468) would use the Runaway and Homeless Youth program as a vehicle to enhance services to youth who are vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking. The Strengthening Child Welfare Response to Trafficking Act of 2015 (H.R. 469) would strengthen state child welfare agencies’ responses to the trafficking of children. A number of bills would amend criminal justice policy in an attempt to obstruct human trafficking. For instance, the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act of 2015 (SAVE Act, H.R. 285, as passed by the House), would provide penalties for knowingly advertising, or knowingly selling advertising that offers, certain commercial sex acts. The Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act (H.R. 159, as passed by the House, and S. 166, as reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee) would incentivize states to enact safe harbor legislation—which would ensure that children who are found in prostitution would be treated as victims rather than perpetrators—and increase restitution amounts for victims. Several pending bills, such as the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (H.R. 181; S. 178), the Stop Exploitation Through Trafficking Act of 2015 (H.R. 159), and the Human Trafficking Prevention, Intervention, and Recovery Act of 2015 (H.R. 350), all as passed by the Domestic Human Trafficking Legislation in the 114th Congress Congressional Research Service House, would adopt a multi-prong approach to anti-TIP efforts, including improving services to victims. For example, H.R. 181 and S. 178 would create new grant programs for law enforcement and victims services, and would amend the criminal code (Title 18 of the U.S. Code) for certain trafficking-related activities. S. 178 would also impose an additional $5,000 penalty on anyone convicted of certain trafficking-related and other offenses and would establish a Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund into which revenues from such penalties would be deposited and used to award certain grants authorized by the TVPA or to enhance victims’ services.”
I know that was a lot, and you can find all of this an more at https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43917.pdf
They went on to claim that as many as 17,500 people may be trafficked into the country each year and perhaps 100,000 US citizen children may be victims of trafficking within the United States. Altogether, the US alone has passed 13 different bills helping to fight human trafficking. These bills include:
- Enhancing financial penalties for those who are convicted of trafficking offenses
- Reducing the demand
- Cyber Crimes Unit and customs enforcement
- improving investigations and prosecutions of child abuse
- improving the child welfare system
- grant programs for domestic minor victims of sex trafficking
- increase communication between agencies
- training for government officials
- sex offenders registry
Don’t get me wrong, all of these are amazing things. We want all of these to be enacted and the United States has done a very good job at enforcing these forms of legislation. The problem with the legislation isn’t that legislation isn’t being passed. The problem is that the legislation that is being passed isn’t always efficient. There are several problems that the legislation doesn’t always address. First, the traffickers are extremely innovative. The United States legislation is good at fighting specific issues, such as the exploitation of children through the welfare system. The legislation is set in place to fight this specific issue, but not the issue as a whole. Within a months time, traffickers can find ways to exploit kids through a whole different process.
Another big issue with the legislation is that the legislation system continues to exploit the victims of trafficking by convicting them. For example, a prostitute may be stuck in his/her system of oppression by a pimp who is threatening the prostitute’s life. When the cop finds a prostitute on the side of the road eliciting sex, they will often criminalize the prostitute instead of trying to find the person oppressing the prostitution. The system is improving in this realm, but the issue still exists.
There are hundreds of different ways that legislation isn’t actually helping to fix the problem. I encourage all of you as my readers to start doing the research yourself. I am more than willing to help you see all of these things, but I want to advocate for you to start looking into these things yourself. This is a serious issue. Are you willing to start doing something about it?
This is a super short post, but over the past few weeks, many people have contacted me asking what they can do to help in this struggle. Many of you have been touched by the stories and lessons I have posted and you may not know what to do with you. I hope to address all of your questions throughout the semester and want to give you all practical steps as to how to live lives that fight this injustice, but I honestly don’t have the time to write all of that immediately. In the meantime, I wanted to give you all some starter resources for other places you can look to answer some of the questions you may have. Here are some links to places for you to do personal research:
Just because I post these doesn’t mean I don’t want you all to keep asking questions. Please contact me if you want to talk about any of this. Although this is a blog, I am more than willing to have face to face communication with all of you. Thanks for reading
Who is excited for the Super Bowl? I know I am. Although it’s not an official holiday, its a time where the entire country comes together and celebrates the essence of America. Food, friends, yelling, commercials, football… who wouldn’t be pumped? For most of the country, it’s a dream come true. But for a large group of people, it is their worst nightmare. Over the past few years, it has been revealed that the superbowl is the single largest human trafficking incident in the US. This fact has been widely disputed ever since it was released in 2011, but the message still stands. Human trafficking is an issue and while we celebrate and live our normal lives, this issue continues.
To quote a well respected pastor, David Platt, “We live in a country of profitable sex industries of all sorts. Prostitution is rampant, sex trafficking a $58 billion industry worldwide and the US ranked high among destinations for victims of sex trafficking. Listen to these words taken from a reputable report on sex trafficking, ‘A human trafficker can earn 20 times what he or she paid for the girl, provided the girl wasn’t physically brutalized ruining her beauty, the pimp could sell her again for a higher price because he had trained her and broken her spirit which saves future buyers the hassle. One study in the Netherlands shows on average, a single sex slave earns her pimp $250,000 a year. Sex traffickers use a variety of ways to condition their victims, including subjecting them to starvation, rape, gang rape, physical abuse, beating, confinement, threats of violence towards the victim and the victims family, forced drug use, and shame. These victims suffer devastating physical and physiological harm. However, due to language barriers, lack of knowledge about available services, and the frequency with which traffickers move victims, human trafficking victims and their perpetrators are difficult to catch.’ This is not just “out there.” Interstate 20, which runs right through Birmingham, Alabama, is known as “the largest sex traffic corridor in America.” To bring it even more into this room, it is sex trafficking that in so many ways fuels and is fueled by the pornography industry in our culture, which brings in revenues of over 13 billion dollars a year, the fourth highest among all countries in the world. Every second, $3,000 is spent on pornography and 28,000 Internet users view pornography.”
I will soon write a blog post about the ties of pornography and human trafficking, but I hope you all see that this is an issue that is rampant even though most of us do not see it. During the Superbowl this weekend, I ask you all to take some time and think about those stuck in human trafficking. Thanks for reading,