What is the the truth about sex trafficking?

While sex can be a magical experience in relationships, there are other experiences not always positive.  Sex trafficking is one. Moreover, then there is the internet. I recently attended a panel discussion at the United Nations Chapel sponsored by the Soroptimist's International Club. One of the panelists was an FBI agent whose career is devoted to rescuing women -- and teenagers -- trapped in sex slavery. These women are forced to generate $1,000 per day in revenues: $100 per "trick," ten "tricks" per day. Day in, day out. Never a day off, even if they are sick, menstruating, pregnant, or recovering from an abortion.

The outcomes of some of those females are they start abusing alcohol, heroin, and other drugs to deaden the physical and emotional pain of this life, and after ten years (if they are still alive), they are "allowed" to retire. By that time, many are too broken physically and emotionally to resume normalcy; if they are not, they often become "Madams" of the brothels or help recruit "fresh blood" into the pipeline.

Photo by Jairo Alzate on Unsplash

I learned during the panel, the average age of a female starting in sex trafficking is 13. However, people, not everyone was kidnapped. Some of them willingly entered it because they were inspired by the "pimp / ho" music videos and wanted to live their interpretation of that "glamorous" life.

Some of the panelists suggested music videos glorifying prostitution as a glamorous lifestyle are helping pimps recruit their girls much easier. All he has to do is buy a 14-year-old that "it" piece of clothing, jewelry, or technology, and some are all too willing to perform sexually in exchange for it: perhaps not intercourse, but some sexual favor that doesn't risk pregnancy.

We learned of other introductions into this sex trafficking life wherein older females approach a younger girl to her "boyfriend's friend" so they can go out together. After the younger girl receives some expensive gifts, pressured into giving sexual favors. If she resists, she is intimidated by threats of harm to her family or the family pets. She then enters the sex trade believing that she is now protecting her family and pets from harm.

They say girls get trafficked on websites in classified ads.  Men in NYC can order their sex tour experiences online, catch a flight to Bangkok on Friday, have their weekend itinerary confirmed by the time they land, and return to NYC Monday with stories of 14-year-old girls and boys, or even animals.

Other influences include the internet and all of its exposure changes everything -- how we socialize, how we do business, and how crime perpetrate. It helps feed the pop culture and make videos, photos, and stories "go viral."

Young females now have extensive unedited exposure with so much sexually suggestive content, with or without nudity, alone or with someone else. It is not funny, sexy, or to their advantage. It can be dangerous, in fact. It can be a way to attract those who would target them for sexual exploitation. Women posting photos of themselves are always "advertising" who they are, no matter what. Images posted are depicting our self-images. I understand that feminism gives women permission to do whatever they want with their bodies, but why put yourself at risk?

Real feminism is not about defining how others "should" perceive us regardless of how we convey ourselves in social media. Feminism is not arrogant. Just because "we" know we are fabulous, sensitive, intelligent and talented, it does not mean we can put ourselves in high-risk situations and feel entitled to arrive home safely at the end of the night. Feminism is not reckless. Feminism starts with the self-respect that guides us to share our minds and selves in ways that inspire others to see us for whom we know we truly are: fabulous, sensitive, intelligent, talented, (___fill in the blank!___).

Think about what it is to be a Lady: You may not find the definition here, but it certainly does NOT include attitudes or behaviors that glorify the pimp-ho lifestyle that is the cultural gateway into sex slavery in America.

Header Photo by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash