US President Barack Obama declared January 2010 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and asked everyone to recommit themselves to ending the modern practice of slavery in the world. Human trafficking is an international problem where men, women, and children are victimized through force, fear, and threats. Women and children are particularly vulnerable to this black market industry because of the demand for prostitutes around the world. Most women who enter the industry do so before the age of 16 and are submitted to violence, sexual and physical abuse, and rape.
Sex trafficking is an epidemic which does not limit itself to one place or one group of people. Too often the crime of sex trafficking is ignored because it is termed prostitution. The majority of sex trafficked women end up in unfamiliar countries, stripped of every right to control what happens to their own bodies and given no power to negotiate for their own safety. Reclassifying the act as prostitution by giving a woman a little money only serves to mislead individuals from what is actually happening – sexual abuse, rape, violence, and battery. Study after study shows that an overwhelming majority of women who are currently working as prostitutes did not enter the industry willingly and want out of the industry immediately.
The Opposition’s Agenda
Many feminist groups and leftist governments from around the world would try to convince us that the only way to stop the sex trafficking of women and young girls is to legalize and regulate prostitution and provide sex workers with rights. It is argued that women have the right to decide what they do with their bodies and if they choose to participate in prostitution then that should be within their rights.
What these groups aren’t saying is that the women who participate in prostitution are not choosing to do so but are resorting to the only options left available to them. It is a modern form of slavery; for the most part, these women are not free to make their own choices. Women sex workers disproportionately come into the industry from poverty and from marginalized ethnicities and races. Far from the picture of women’s rights that is painted by nongovernmental organizations and leftist countries is the reality of women being turned into commodities to be bought, sold, and victimized for someone else’s profit. Unlike what these groups may claim, prostitution systematically discriminates against women, children, and those from the poorest and most disenfranchised ethnic and racial groups.
Many developing countries support the legalization of prostitution because of the economic benefits they feel it will bring them. If prostitution were legalized it would allow governments to count prostitutes as among their workforce which would lower their unemployment rates and would allow governments to tax the industry and its workers which would increase national revenue. But while these governments try to emphasize the perceived benefits of such a decision, they are ignoring the facts.
An International Epidemic
Countries in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia have become notorious for their sex industries and draw “tourists” to the country for the expressed purpose of taking part in the violent exploitation of women and children. Countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are plagued with expatriate pedophiles from the Western world whose sole draw to these countries is the easy access to young boys and girls to sexually exploit. In China an atmosphere has developed, driven by the demand for young Asian women by foreign business men, which has created a generation of Chinese women who feel it is their patriotic duty to contribute to the country’s GDP by selling their bodies. In the United States the State Department estimates that anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 young girls are trafficked each year in this country.
Legalizing prostitution does not eliminate the negative impacts of the industry. Sex trafficking is necessary to keep prostitution functioning and profitable for suppliers. In the developed world where some “progressive” governments have legalized prostitution, sex trafficking has done nothing except to continue growing at an even faster rate. In the Netherlands where prostitution is legal, statistics show that over 80 percent of sex workers are trafficked in from other countries.
The Work of UFI
Through United Families International’s two-pronged approach of education and advocacy, we have been working to combat global sex trafficking through our presence at the United Nations. UFI battles for the rights of all by keeping language out of international resolutions which would recognize prostitution as a right and seek to legalize it. Not only does UFI work to keep such language from international law but we work to include protections which explicitly forbid the practice of sex trafficking and prostitution. We fight to protect families against the threats of an industry which perpetrates violence against women and children and increases the risks of child sexual abuse by fostering the adult sex industry in our own neighborhoods.
By proliferating accurate information about the ills of prostitution and sex trafficking, we seek to continue building a global community which values protecting individuals from the perils and pernicious damage of this industry. Education is the fastest and most effective way to bring about a broad cultural shift in perspective which values the preservation and protection of traditional families. Through our work at the local, national, and international levels we are combating the leftist, feminist agenda which attempts to legalize the exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable. The morals of society must not be undermined by misguided and short-sighted government policy or relaxed cultural expectations.
UFI’s Unique Role
United Families International works to unite organizations in their efforts to combat human trafficking and provides them with the research, science, and support necessary to defend families from this onslaught against the vulnerable among us. Through UFI’s role as the primary non-sectarian, social science-based organization with an international presence, we are working to build an international and united front for the family across the world. Our new President, Michael Duff, is advancing this effort with a new vision for UFI that will allow us to better influence and guide policies affecting sex trafficking and exploitation policies around the world.
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