prostitution, sex trafficking and choice

In April 2007, an illegal Las Vegas massage brothel was busted by 2 law enforcement agencies+ ICE+IRS. 25 women were rounded up in the sting, and 6 suspected traffickers were arrested. At the time of the arrests, a police officer stated, “Some were brought here by force, and some were tricked into coming here with the promise of a good job.” click here After 2 weeks, a second law enforcement agent said, “They were all there voluntarily. They expressed they were happy with the money they were making.” click here
They’re making money, they’re happy, and they’re there voluntarily. Isn’t that what all pimps coerce the women they control to say? Before the woman’s physical safety is assured, and before violations of her human rights are addressed – prostitution apologists pressure us to debate whether or not she is prostituting voluntarily. This is a situation where most would agree that the women were coerced by poverty, debt, and/or prior domestic abuse – yet because money is paid for sexual exploitation, and because the women smile – then it’s voluntary trafficking.

What is wrong with this picture?

2 Comments

  1. I remember this movie – I think it was The Taking of Pelham 123. In this movie – Walter Matthou says even when a gun is pointed at your head – you have a choice . . . you can still “choose” to tell the gun man to blow your head off or you can comply. Some people call that “making a choice”. Some call that not really a choice at all. Technically with a gun pointed at my head – I am yes making a choice whether to comply with the demand or die. But whether or not I’m making a “free will” choice – well I have different standards for what passes for that. I’ve also experienced doctors “misinforming” me of things in order to get me to agree to surgery or medications they’ve wanted me to have. I might have given the doctor an answer – but whether or not in some cases it was an “informed” answer is again another standard. I spent some years in the business and felt my years were all “voluntary”. I saw other people I felt forced to work in this industry and always felt I was “different”. Now I’m older and more educated – I often wonder if I was just convincing myself it was voluntary in order to feel good about situations I was dealing with where I felt sex work was the only solution at the time. People don’t know this about me – but I had a mentally ill mother I was trying to take care of with the money I made in the industry. I also didn’t have a lot of information that might have made me make different decisions. For example – I was under the impression I could only get scholarships for college while in high school and didn’t know about the financial aid options available to me. I wouldn’t be out of the sex industry today if people hadn’t let me know about “other options” as to job training, financial aid, or even government assistance programs. I just think when a cop is standing over a woman in a jail cell and asking her if what she is doing is “voluntary” gives it the time and consideration such a question really requires to truly answer. I mean how many times have we all said “I’m fine” when someone asks simply because it’s too complicated and you didn’t feel like going into the details of what was “really” going on. I personally think people look at this business too simplistically anyway though. I once read a medical study that showed over 98 percent of women with my history and who have been in the sex industry actually relapse back into the sex industry and have a 95 percent mortality rate within 10 years. I’ve been out of the industry and clean for over 22 years now – so what does this person who is someone who “beat the odds” know about this question anyway? I personally am tired of people who have never worked in this industry a day – telling me I don’t know what I’m talking about based on what they see on the “outside” of sex workers. I promise you it’s a much more complex issue on the inside of our heads.

  2. I never worked in the “sex industry” so I hesitate here a little.
    Many observers came away with the impression that African-Americans were happy in slavery because they looked OK; maybe they laughed and smiled. Yet, it would be academic, social and political suicide to advocate that position today. Yet in the face of modern day slavery, are we going to make the same error?

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