Monday, June 20, 2011

Human trafficking

Now that we're talking about the issue of treating people as "means to an end" the topic of prostitution came up. This is a good opportunity to take a look at a different angle of "prostitution." The word is loaded with all sort of prejudice for the simple reason that we live in a phallocentric society. What I am trying to say is that some people see prostitution as a problem of personal freedom (i.e., as if what's at stake here is the desire of an individual to engage in a form of sexual fantasy, a desire for sex, a perversion, in exchange for money). But this -naïve- user-friendly view ignores the suffering that goes on with sex exploitation and its worse development: human trafficking.

Here are some links for you to get an idea of what's going on:

Cheated out of childhood in Russia.
Rape in Japan.
Sex slaves in Italy.
Child sex workers in Nepal.
Child prostitution in South Africa.
You don't have to go overseas. Sex exploitation happens in our own backyard.

Although the evidence is overwhelming, but why do we still struggle with these dreadful issues in the Twenty-First Century?

Here is the wikipedia entry on prostitution, which brings the bigger issue of human trafficking.
Prostitution in the United States. (see that there are different kinds, from brothel, to escort to child prostitution).
Following the guidelines of the previous assignment, I'd like you to comment on the ethical issues involving the sexual exploitation of women.

Some facts you should know before you post your comment:

1- "About 80% of women in prostitution have been the victim of a rape. It's hard to talk about this because..the experience of prostitution is just like rape. Prostitutes are raped, on the average, eight to ten times per year. They are the most raped class of women in the history of our planet. " (Susan Kay Hunter and K.C. Reed, July, 1990 "Taking the side of bought and sold rape," speech at National Coalition against Sexual Assault, Washington, D.C. ). Other studies report 68% to 70% of women in prostitution being raped (M Silbert, "Compounding factors in the rape of street prostitutes," in A.W. Burgess, ed., Rape and Sexual Assault II, Garland Publishing, 1988; Melissa Farley and Howard Barkan, "Prostitution, Violence, and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder," 1998, Women & Health.

2-  Prostitution is an act of violence against women which is intrinsically traumatizing. In a study of 475 people in prostitution (including women, men, and the transgendered) from five countries (South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, USA, and Zambia):
62% reported having been raped in prostitution.
73% reported having experienced physical assault in prostitution.
72% were currently or formerly homeless.
92% stated that they wanted to escape prostitution immediately.
(Melissa Farley, Isin Baral, Merab Kiremire, Ufuk Sezgin, "Prostitution in Five Countries: Violence and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder" (1998) Feminism & Psychology 8 (4): 405-426.

3- Many of the health problems of women in prostitution are a direct result of violence. For example, several women had their ribs broken by the police in Istanbul, a woman in San Francisco broke her hips jumping out of a car when a john was attempting to kidnap her. Many women had their teeth knocked out by pimps and johns. (Melissa Farley, unpublished manuscript, 2000). One woman (in another study) said about her health: "I’ve had three broken arms, nose broken twice, [and] I’m partially deaf in one ear….I have a small fragment of a bone floating in my head that gives me migraines. I’ve had a fractured skull. My legs ain’t worth shit no more; my toes have been broken. My feet, bottom of my feet, have been burned; they've been whopped with a hot iron and clothes hanger… the hair on my pussy had been burned off at one time…I have scars. I’ve been cut with a knife, beat with guns, two by fours. There hasn’t been a place on my body that hasn’t been bruised somehow, some way, some big, some small." (Giobbe, E. (1992) Juvenile Prostitution: Profile of Recruitment in Ann W. Burgess (ed.) Child Trauma: Issues & Research.Garland Publishing Inc, New York, page 126).

4-  The commercial sex industry includes street prostitution, massage brothels, escort services, out-call services, strip clubs, lap-dancing, phone sex, adult and child pornography, video and internet pornography, and prostitution tourism. Most women who are in prostitution for longer than a few months drift among these various permutations of the commercial sex industry. All prostitution causes harm to women. Whether it is being sold by one’s family to a brothel, or whether it is being sexually abused in one’s family, running away from home, and then being pimped by one’s boyfriend, or whether one is in college and needs to pay for next semester’s tuition and one works at a strip club behind glass where men never actually touch you – all these forms of prostitution hurt the women in it. (Melissa Farley, paper presented at the 11th International Congress on Women’s Health Issues, University of California College of Nursing, San Francisco, 2000).

I will close this post Saturday, June 25, at 11pm.