Right now I am reading the book sex slaves. And I must be brutally honest.
I am angry. Not just from the facts presented in the book (and the author has actually chosen to exclude the worst stories) but also because we still let it happen:
“The truth of the matter is that there was not a time where we ever stopped being barbaric. We simply became better at deceiving ourselves and thereby also each other into believing that a form of civilized and moral society had been accomplished. Because obviously if you walk the streets of any western capital in the tourist areas at daytime you see a ‘perfect world’ of concrete and lights, but right beneath the surface, there are cockroaches and sex slaves”.
The book presents the facts about Asian sex trafficking in a very clear way.(Sex trafficking is when a vulnerable person is being moved from one place to another by an abuser either unwillingly or through being deceived and manipulated or made dependent upon the abuser). The soot has been cleaned away from dirty windows, and you look right in at atrocities that some part of the mind want to blank out.
I have even found that I was irritated on the book, because it mentions the same fact again and again, and I realize that this actually makes the book better. I. Am. Getting. Irritated. Because I must read several times that in Asia prostitution is rationalized by both men and women. That women are too poor to have another choice, that the ones who “sell” women and small girls, are often people they know (http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=3691604&page=1#.UYkysZXXPoA).
Another fact that repeats itself endlessly is that virgins are really appreciated. It is scary that this irritates me, and to never forget and even make more people more conscious of what`s going on, I want to give credit to this book and give a glimpse of its content.
One important question the book tries to discuss, is why men buy sex. The reasons are varied, but I want to focus some of the explanations:
“The sexual demands of mature women are seen as threatening to men who have not yet acquired sexual and emotional maturity. P. 145” For men this is a proof of their masculinity and one of the most important markers of a man`s position within male hierarchies.
Sex workers are important in framing the sexual lives and identity of large numbers of men all over the region. In Calcutta it has been estimated that 60000-80000 men buy sex every day (p 135), and in countries like the Philippines and Thailand friends and family members may arrange excursions to brothels. In Cambodia, high-level business deals are sealed by having sex with virgins (p. 139). Still, this isn`t always enough. Thai and Filipina women report beatings and threats with knives and guns (p. 149), and one girl reported that she was burned with cigarettes on her nipples by two Japanese men (p. 150).The most disturbing chapter is the one that deals with ‘seasoning’, the acute physical and psychological violence used to initiate women into prostitution.
Comments are made everywhere in Asia that strengthen the slavery (even if the public picture is one of moral code and chastity”. “The purchase of sex is universal among men” or “it involves all men at some points in their lives” (p. 133. Those comments are exaggerated).
And what do the women think about this? The have to accept it. For many there is no other alternative, either because of poverty (some even “sell their daughters”), or because they are dependent on the economic and social security provided by their unfaithful husbands.
Also politicians have shown attitudes of acceptance. The following excerpt is from a blog, describing a politician in Kuwait (Salwa al Mutairi).
“Men should be allowed sex slaves and female prisoners could do the job” she has also called for sex slavery to be legalized – and suggested that non-Muslim prisoners from war-torn countries would make suitable concubines. Further, she argued buying a sex-slave would protect decent, devout and “virile” Kuwaiti men from adultery because buying an imported sex partner would be tantamount to marriage.
The political activist and TV host even suggested that it would be a better life for women in warring countries as the might die of starvation.
Mutairi claimed: “There was no shame in it and it is not haram (forbidden) under Islamic Sharia law.” …
In an attempt to consider the woman’s feelings in the arrangement, Mutari conceded that the enslaved women, however, should be at least 15.
Returning to the book, I must ensure you that the book has been worked with for a long time. The author has talked with many girls who has had real experiences and with many help-organizations. The stories and the scale of the abuse, is shocking, and she certainly wants us to see this. Some people don`t like that it makes Asia and men look really bad, and I must admit it paints a grim picture. But we have to keep in mind that this is not about the good sides of life, it`s meant to show the reality for over 20 million women and boys in Asia. She also repeats several times that not all girls are forced into this, and not all men buy sex. And most readers will know enough about the world, to realize that there will always be a lot of exceptions and grey areas.
I recommend this book for people who want to know more, since I myself was very surprised myself over the magnitude of the industry, and don`t like to think about how much I didn`t know.
That being said, my anger is still here (a bit better), but I take with me this knowledge and know I will never be silent if someone ask what I think. Maybe I will work with this, some day, or maybe some of you will. The best way to help people is by spreading knowledge, and I think that is the real danger for human trafficking.
That means one point for each and every of you who read this, and one minus point to the agents who go to sleep every night with the knowledge that their pockets will be even fuller the next day.