Domestic minor sex trafficking.
Now that I got your attention, I want you to ask yourself: Why did these four words make you interested in what else I have to say?
February 11, 2016 I had the pleasure of being able to support the promotion of the Safe Harbor Act, which was passed last year, and the new Safe Harbor Amendment, which will be voted on in the 2016 General Elections. Later that day, I joined the IHTI team in spreading the word about the Safe Harbor Amendment and getting people to sign a non-binding pledge to vote Safe Harbor YES!
With all the wonderful strangers I had the pleasure of enticing into listening to my 15-second attempt at trying to capture their interest, I was surprised at how many individuals turned their heads to learn more only when they heard the words ‘minor sex trafficking.’ The type of appeal and curiosity this topic conjures is quite fascinating. It is the type of topic many people want to hear more about, but very few actually want to take action to change. Even less believe that they have any type of connection to the issue. This realization took me toward some serious inner reflection where I was reminded of how much of a cultural paradox most of us are living in.
The sex trafficking triangle comprised of the victims, pimps/industries, and the ones who pay for it (the ‘johns’), can also be seen as a triangle of supply, distribution and demand. Looking further, you will realize that it is less of a triangle and more of a vicious circle. A circle whose individual components seem to always be the main target of blame without looking at the main overarching source of fuel.
It is easy to solely blame the pimps and the adult entertainment industries, and it is easy to say that if there were no demand you wouldn’t need supply.
As my curiosity led to more questions, I realized that you cannot take away a basic human need, but you can analyze it, you can strip away the core components that have turned it into something horrifying, and you should expect to manage the incredible consequences it has proven to lead to. These core components, I came to realize, are directly associated with the culture we all associate with.
The common phrase, ‘boys will be boys’ is one that excuses far too many actions all around the world that are swept under the rug. Across the globe, paying for sex has become a major aspect of male-dominated societies. Whether it is a father teaching his son to become a man, a groom-to-be recapturing his youth for the last time, or a form of therapeutic escape from the reality of marriage and a demanding lifestyle, it is a reality that has seeped into our global culture. Because of the way culture has driven the over-sexualization of women, it is hardly a surprise to see a conclusion where women, young girls and even boys are dehumanized and used as a means to an end.
Cultural stimulants for this notion are not too different across the globe. While the obvious driver is pornography, others include movies, music, slang terms, advertisements, and many other aspects of entertainment. This gradually trickles into our moral thoughts and creates a culture of individuals that both directly and indirectly drive the triangle of sex trafficking.
It is easy to point the blame on clear direct perpetrators. It is much harder to look within ourselves and ask whether we, in any way, could possibly contribute to something we are willing to stop in the middle of the street to hear about. Why has this become an acceptable reality? The answer hides behind the excuses we have created through a sexually-driven culture.
Human trafficking is not restricted by economic wealth or geographical location. It is a concealed consequence of a daily promotion of its ideals. The vulnerable position the victims are put into and the ego void the johns feel like they need to fill is created inside communities. It is passed down through families and friends. This is where change needs to begin. When looking at such a complex situation it is easy to blame the direct contributors, and it is difficult to look deeper to understand why. We are trapped in a cultural paradox where we are trying to eradicate a problem that grew out of our initial promotion and gradual acceptance.