Sexual Trafficking

orldwide, thousands of women and children are sold into sexual trafficking or sexual slavery every year (U. S. Department of State, 2005). This involves recruiting, obtaining, and transporting individuals by use of force or coercion for the purpose of forcing them into invol­untary acts, such as prostitution. Typically young and vulner­able individuals are targeted and given a promise of mar­riage, employment, education, or simply a better life. They often give up their passports in return, which makes them dependent on their "owner."

Although sexual trafficking and sexual slavery are illegal in the United States, the government believes that between

600,0 and 800,000 people are trafficked across interna­tional borders every year—80% of whom are female and 50% are children (U. S. Department of State, 2005). Today many governmental groups are working to eliminate sex traf­ficking. In fact, in 2004, the U. S. government gave $82 mil­lion in antitrafficking assistance to foreign governments (U. S. Department of State, 2005).

Following is one young woman’s testimony before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2000:

When I was 14, a man came to my parents’ house in Veracruz, Mexico, and asked me if I was interested in making money in the United States. He said I could make many times as much money doing the same things that I was doing in Mexico. At the time, I was working in a hotel cleaning rooms and I also helped around my house by watching my brothers and sisters.

He said I would be in good hands, and would meet many other Mexican girls who had taken advantage of

this great opportunity. My parents didn’t want me to go, but I persuaded them.

A week later, I was smuggled into the United States through Texas to Orlando, Florida. It was then the men told me that my employment would consist of having sex with men for money. I had never had sex be­fore, and I had never imagined selling my body.

And so my nightmare began. Because I was a vir­gin, the men decided to initiate me by raping me again and again, to teach me how to have sex. Over the next three months, I was taken to a different trailer every 15 days. Every night I had to sleep in the same bed in which I had been forced to service customers all day.

I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I wasn’t allowed to go outside without a guard. Many of the bosses had guns. I was constantly afraid. One of the bosses carried me off to a hotel one night, where he raped me. I could do nothing to stop him.

Because I was so young, I was always in demand with the customers. It was awful. Although the men were supposed to wear condoms, some didn’t, so eventually I became pregnant and was forced to have an abortion. They sent me back to the brothel almost immediately.

I cannot forget what has happened. I can’t put it behind me. I find it nearly impossible to trust people. I still feel shame. I was a decent girl in Mexico. I used to go to church with my family. I only wish none of this had ever happened. (Polaris Project, 2005)

Although prostitution exists all over the world, it is dealt with differently in each culture. We have much to learn from the way that other cultures deal with prostitution. There are many places throughout the world where young girls are forced into sexual slavery against their will (see the accompanying Personal Voices, “Sexual Trafficking”). In 2003, the Bush administration established a task force to help fight these practices in 165 countries throughout the world.

Подпись: ReviewQuestion Describe what is known about prostitution outside the United States. Throughout this chapter we have explored erotic representations in books, televi­sion, advertising, other media, and how sex is used to sell products. We have also exam­ined the sale of sex itself through prostitution and strip bars. There are many effects to living in a society so saturated with sexual representations, and these effects certainly help shape our opinions and thoughts about men, women, and sexuality today.

Personal Voices