Sex. There is nothing that fascinates American society more. Magazine covers are plastered with sexually charged images of celebrities and filled with stories of their sexual conquests and articles that promise to contain the secrets to wow-ing in bed. The population has become accustomed, to the point of comfortable, with discussing, dissecting, and bantering about it in almost every forum. Why is it then, when it comes to the topic of sexual slavery, does that roar become a whisper?
There seems to be no category of sex too taboo to be discussed, but the conversation surrounding the dark side of sex is rather sparse on dialogue. A conversation about sexual slavery is exactly what the world needs though. Without an active discussion about human trafficking, society is not only guilty of allowing it to continue, but by avoiding it, we are enabling the traffickers to continue abusing and enslaving victims. If lawmakers and voters alike joined together and decided that not only were they going to stop pretending human trafficking didn’t exist, but were going to actively try to end it, there is absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t be extinguished by the end of the current generation.
The biggest problem we face isn’t getting people to care; most humans are born with an innate sense of compassion. The problem is getting people to do something about it. It wouldn’t matter if 99% of the population decided that they thought human trafficking was horrendous and should be stopped, if no one makes that a priority. The biggest problem is that not nearly enough people want to talk about it. Human trafficking is neither a fun or enjoyable issue to tackle, but an extremely necessary one. People don’t want to spend their lunch break chatting about victims being forced to work in brothels for no pay 24 hours a day or about young children forced to turn tricks to earn money for their pimps because, besides compassion, most humans have an inherent aversion to the uncomfortable. It is hard to imagine a conversation more uncomfortable than one surrounding the abhorrent sexual exploitation of human beings, especially children. However, there is absolutely no comparison between the uncomfortableness of a discussion about human trafficking and the uncomfortableness of the life of someone forced to live in these horrendous conditions.
Beginning the discussion is far easier than it has ever been before. Social media sites have made it as simple as entering in a few keystrokes to just spread even the most basic information about trafficking. Many Americans are under the false belief that human trafficking is just a terrible thing that happens in the far east and third world countries, but could never happen in the United States. Unfortunately no continent, aside from barren Antarctica, has managed to escape the clutches of slavery. Talking about it and seeing others doing the same makes it real and once it’s real, it becomes very difficult to ignore.
It is time for people to deal with the uncomfortable and the unpleasant. Hiding behind what is easy to talk about is only serving to further strengthen the taboo surrounding human trafficking. It is not enough to merely mention it in passing and move on. It is not something the world can afford to forget and sweep it under the rug. A world full of hushed whispers will never be as powerful as a room full of people unafraid to talk openly about human trafficking and what can be done to put an end to it.
By: Danae Zimmer