“The vice trade is one which people can, if they wish to, turn a blind eye to, but I fail to see how we as a mature society can turn our backs on people.” – Chief Superintendent Simon Humphrey
“On the worldwide black market, the third most profitable commodity after illegal weapons and drugs is human flesh.” (1) This quote is taken from a book called The Natashas: The Horrific Inside Story of Slavery, Rape, and Murder in the Global Sex Trade. Written by Victor Malarek, this book explores the inner workings of the sex trafficking trade. Malarek’s goal in this book appears to be to inform the public both of the breadth and intensity of the problem. He tells the stories of several young women who were kidnapped, physically and psychologically abused, repeatedly raped, and treated worse than animals. Stefa, a 17 year old girl from Eastern Europe described the beginning of her living nightmare as such; “I cannot describe the horror that went on there. A few times a day, the owner would come and yell at us to get ready, buyers were coming…They wanted to see what we looked like naked. They touched us and examined us like we were cattle.” (2) This was before Stefa was bought and forced into prostitution. Most people are justifiably horrified at the thought of such things, yet for some reason, they happen. And the frequency of such crimes is only going up. Why? What is it that sustains this modern day slavery?
According to Malarek, “The massive worldwide recruitment of women into the flesh trade is fueled by one factor alone – the global demand for purchased sex by men”.(3) The idea is simple, the supply is driven by the demand. But why is there such a demand? Why are so many men so desperate to have sex that they are willing to pay, and in doing so, participate in an industry that practices kidnapping, rape, and brutality? Clearly a need has been created, a demand has been stirred that exceeds any previous level. The basest of desires has become something that simply must be taken care of, no matter what the cost.
This attitude is pervasive in our culture. To the modern person, sex is just a pleasant pastime. Something that is to be pursued for the object of pleasure to be attained. The other person involved in the process becomes interchangeable, an object merely present to help achieve the end goal. This appetite is only increased by the availability and easy access to pornographic material. Whereas such material was once looked down upon, it is now a common pastime of both men and women. This has only fueled the fire and increased the demand for prostitutes as men search for ways to live out fantasies viewed in pornographic material. At this point, again, the question is: why? Why is casual sex so pervasive in our culture? Why is it so common in television, books, movies, and music? What is it about our attitudes that has allowed and encouraged such a disproportionate importance to this act?
The answer must lie in the way that we view ourselves as people. In a previous post, I wrote about some of the dangers of materialism and utilitarianism, I believe that prostitution is yet another danger. Materialism, the idea that there is nothing more than matter, claims that the human person in merely a collection of atoms, and as such people really are nothing more than objects. Utilitarianism, the idea that one should attempt to increase happiness, often gets reduced to the pursuit of happiness for the individual. In this way, these two ideas combined may cause people to view sex as nothing more than a function of the body that must be satisfied. As stated, this idea floods the culture, and sex becomes something that is owed to each person, as opposed to something that they must be given. In this way, people become willing to pay for a product that they see as nothing worse than purchasing food to satisfy their hunger.
Clearly, this is an issue that cannot easily be solved. It not only lies in trafficking of women, but also in the attitudes of those who participate in prostitution. As one man stated, “There is nothing wrong with this. A man needs release and there is nothing immoral about that…it is simply about release.” (4) This completely twisted notion of humanity is disturbing. Release for one means enslavement for another. In addition to treating the symptoms of such warped ideas, we must go to the source. We must persevere in the ideas that give rise to the intrinsic dignity of each person, and the respect that is due to them.
- Malarek, Victor The Natashas, back cover
- Malarek, Victor The Natashas, p. 112
- Mararek, Victor The Natashas, p. 73
- Mararek, Victor The Natashas, p. 75