The New Slave Trade
When I arrived at the brothel, a girl asked me, “What are you doing here?” I responded, “I come here to work.” “Don’t you know this is where people sell their body?” I couldn’t sleep at night; I kept thinking about what she had said. Selling my body? I didn’t know what selling my body means. I thought… it means cutting off parts of my body and sell them; if it was only that… (Sacrifice)
Here is another innocent voice out of countless others who have been sexually exploited by faceless offenders night and day. According to the Southeast Asian Women Organization, 30 million women and children have been the victim of sexual trafficking since 1970. The exact statistics are difficult to obtain because by its very nature, commercial sexual exploitation involves underground activities that remove the victims from public view, making them seemingly “invisible.” Bound behind the doors of brothels or secret rooms, the women and children are hidden away so that they can be exploited at leisure while protecting the perpetrators’ exposure. The gathering of data can only be conducted when the children “surface” so the data always underestimate the actual scope of the problem. The children “surfaced” when they run away to local homeless shelters, seek hospital treatments for STDs or other maladies, are caught by immigration service or thrown out of their brothel as ‘useless’, or engage in such activities that cause them to be identified and recorded. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that there is little consensus in national law, across disciplines or in data gathering protocols on what constitutes a child or sexual trafficking. Even the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child allows for differences, Article 1 defines a child as "every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.” (UNICEF) Nonetheless, government and non-governmental experts in the field estimate that 700,000 to two million women and children are trafficked globally each year. (USINFO)
There have been many international and national agendas undertaken to suppress sexual trafficking but to little avail. The number of victims continues to increase dramatically. In Thailand, Japan, and other countries with a large sex industry, the number of trafficked child prostitutes increased by 20% from 1998-99. Sexual trafficking has become the third largest source of profits for organized crime just behind the trafficking of drugs and alcohol. Since sexual trafficking is a result of poverty, it originates mainly from developing countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Russia. The destination countries include Western Europe, India, Japan, Thailand, Asia, Australia, and the United States. The average age of the victims is roughly 20 but the trend is leaning toward younger girls, sometimes as young as 7 years old, for many reasons. Children...