Are we really as opposed to sexual exploitation as we think?
Sex Trafficking is wrong. We all agree. The verdict is unanimous. Exploiting another human being for sex is not okay. Or at least we think. We hope. We wish. We want to live in a world that doesn’t tolerate sexual exploitation. We dare not think that our own neighbors, coworkers, or even religious leaders may be part of the problem. And yet human trafficking doesn’t become the second largest criminal enterprise on the planet, and the fastest growing, in a vacuum. For that to happen, there needs to be A LOT of men buying sex. Everywhere and often.
That’s where things get dicey. While our society loves to imagine a world where we are all opposed to sexual exploitation, the frightening reality is that our actions say otherwise. Our words and our actions betray what we really believe about exploitation. We live in a world where a perpetrator’s father describes his son raping an unconscious woman as “20 minutes of action”. A world where Amnesty International advocates for the legalization of the “sex trade” despite all the evidence and outcry from scholars, researchers, and human trafficking survivors that it will make exploitation much worse.
Every day, right here in the beloved city of Seattle, there are approximately 6,847 attempts to buy sex online. And that’s only on one of the 200+ websites. Meanwhile, the majority of young men in our country, and a growing number of women, consume pornography without considering the connection to sexual exploitation. And it’s a BIG connection (check out the article “The Slave and the Porn Star” which inspired our #refusetoclick film). Our mass consumption of porn might mean we’re more connected to the problem than we thought.
Now for the good news. We can gain ground. The public outcry this week about the Brock Turner rape case is evidence of both the problem and the progress. A lenient six-month sentence, and the inhumane description of the rape as “twenty minutes of action,” points towards the problem. But the progress can be seen in the nationwide outrage and general sentiment that justice was not served. The victim deserves better.
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