There is a story* about a Holocaust survivor named Corrie ten Boom. The story goes like this: Corrie and her sister Betsie were in the Ravensbruck concentration camp together. The concentration camps were cold, harsh, dirty places, and this particular one was plagued with fleas. The ten Booms were Christians and one day they were praying when Betsie prayed, "Lord, thank you for the fleas." Corrie would have none of it, "I will pray," she said, "But I can never be grateful for the fleas. I won't pray that." Some time later one of the sisters, both of whom had been in a different concentration camp prior to their stay at Ravensbruck, asked why the guards here didn't bother them when they were in their shared living/sleeping quarters - the prisoners even had the freedom to have a Bible study with how little they were harassed. The response to ten Boom's question: "They don't bother us because they don't like the fleas." So...there was a reason to be grateful for the fleas after all!
As Betsie felt about the fleas, so I feel about sex trafficking. The truth is, commercial sexual exploitation of girls has taken place forever, only it's always been called "prostitution". Many, many, many older prostitutes will tell you that they were coerced into it when they were still underage; in the world of Sex for Sale, it is rare that a woman decides on her own and in a position of strength to sell her body.** Because of the stigma that follows prostitution, many people of my generation have been duped into thinking that prostitution should be legalized*** as a form of empowerment to women because it "gives women the right to do what they want with their bodies".
Empowerment? Are you kidding me? When did buying into group think become so important to you that you stopped using the brain in your head? Prostitution doesn't give women power over their own bodies - there's still a system of pimps and madames and men who hire these ladies because they want to abuse something. How is that empowerment?
This is why I am grateful for "sex trafficking". I am grateful that the monstrosity of kids being sold for sex has become a hot-button issue in pop culture, that it has a title and a growing system of laws against it. I am grateful because it is slowly (so slowly it hurts sometimes!) shifting our societal view of "prostitution". Slowly, slowly people are beginning to realize that "prostitution" most often begins as trafficking. "Sex trafficking" helps both conservative and liberal people see "prostitutes" in a new light. A prostitute is not the nasty little whore who lived down the street and was always "asking for it"; nor is she the sexually liberated woman who knows her own mind and gets what she wants. More often than not she is the victimized girl who needs a chance to get out of her situation and become a truly empowered, healthy, and free human being. So...I am grateful for "sex trafficking" because it is changing the way we think of "prostitutes".
*This story can be read in Corrie ten Boom's book The Hiding Place.
**I hate not having statistics or something to cite here, but this is information I've just gleaned over the years I've been informed about sex trafficking. Once you start reading things about commercial sexual exploitation you begin to understand how prostitution is synonymous (and always has been) with trafficking underaged girls.
***I am for the legalization of prostitution if it looks as it does in Sweden!