There is often a distinction made in the media between girls or women who are “trafficked” into the sex trade (i.e., kidnapped and forced) and prostitutes who “choose” to engage in “sex work.” Every so often, an “escort” will come forward, usually anonymously, and paint a pretty picture on the business of sex. High-profile clients and glamorous functions try to make this prostitution sound different and better and classier than, say, prostitution that takes place in brothels or out of back doors. These stories try to promote freedom and choice, arguing that women ought to be allowed to choose to trade their bodies for money. But is it ever really a choice? Does any little girl, at the age of 4, say she wants to grow up to be a prostitute?
Sex trafficking most specifically refers to people who are moved across borders for the purpose of being sold for sex. It often carries with it connotations of kidnapping and physical violence. But victims of sex trafficking are not always physically forced; they are often tricked or coerced with no way out. The absence of physical violence doesn’t make the abuse any less real.
One study in Europe showed that 95% of trafficking victims experienced symptoms of trauma similar to those experienced by torture survivors.
And despite the distinction between trafficking and “sex work” often made in the press, the UN, in its Palermo Protocol, states that exploitation in the form of prostitution is a human rights violation. It also states that the consent of the victim is irrelevant.
In other words, all prostitution is in some way sex slavery. Or at least, it should be considered so.
Why? Consider this...
The majority of female prostitutes enter prostitution as children.
Almost all women in prostitution want to exit.
Typically, prostituted women are some of the most disenfranchised in society. In other words, a choice made out of desperation can hardly be called a choice at all.
Most women and children in prostitution are at some point abused and raped.
Whatever rosy words of freedom of choice are pasted on it, prostitution is still an ugly business, with local industry often fueled by sex trafficking, both national and international.
It’s never ok. It’s not what we as a society should ever want or even allow for the world’s women—who are all somebody's daughter...and who were all once 4-year old little girls with dreams of their own.