This year I decided to research the issue of human trafficking, a issue that has become widespread in popularity. I didn’t understand it and had doubts about its existence in Canada outside stereotypical prostitution. My findings have been sobering. After interviewing those who work with restoring the lives of trafficking victims, talking with girls who have come out of trafficking in Canada and reading the book, Invisible Chains, Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin, I can assure you that trafficking not only exists in our cities, but is growing more and more each year. I wanted to share with you some of my findings from the book Invisible Chains as well as from my interviews. If you are unaware about trafficking in Canada and North America in general, read and be educated. This is a problem that isn’t going away. More than ever, we need education to bring awareness and protect our young ones. I would challenge you not to only read, but take it personally. This is our country, our home and our children. We can’t ignore this.
When diving into my research, one of the questions pressing me was, what would drive one human to treat another as less than human? Here’s what it all comes down to: money. ”Domestic sex traffickers earn an average of $280,000 annually from every victim under their control.” (Invisible Chains). That’s ONE victim. Often they will have 2-4 victims working for them. This revenue is greater than the revenue generating by drug dealing. With this kind of money, you can see trafficking will only increase if not confronted.
The sobering truth is that sex trafficking would not exist in Canada without demand. “Why is there tolerance for buying another person? “Why aren’t clients going to jail? If there weren’t a buyer, there wouldn’t be a procurer, and there wouldn’t be a victimized woman or child.” - Linda Smith of Shared Hope International. This is where my research got disturbing.
In the book, Invisible Chains, Benjamin Perrin gave a profile of a typical buyer (john) and how they justify their actions. He writes:
Purchasers (Johns) of sex acts rely on many and contradictory justifications for rationalizing their behavior:
“If nobody knows about it, how can it be wrong”
“If my wife doesn’t find out, what she doesn’t know isn’t going to hurt her.”
“I deserve this because….”
“My wife hasn’t given me sex in three weeks. I’m a man. I need this.”
Purchasers of sex acts attempt to convince themselves that they’re helping the prostituted/trafficked person by giving her money, further rationalizing their actions on the grounds that they are not hurting anyone. Some claim the woman chose this line of work and enjoys it.”
The average client is the average man. 1988 Gallup poll estimated that 7% of Canadian men have paid for sex. 6- to 72 percent of participants had some post secondary education and most were gainfully employed. 50% of sex purchasers were fathers.
The desire to always be in control and to have a variety of anonymous partners without consequences or responsibility has even been dubbed, “McSex”. One john states, “It’s like going to McDonald’s. It’s satisfying, its greasy; and then you get the hell out of there.”
If there is ever a day when we need to mentor our young men in their sexuality and treatment of women, it’s today. Culture everywhere is teaching a man what a woman is for, which often is an image of objectification. As a mom of two boys, I take this responsibility seriously; to educate my sons in their sexuality and in how to treat a woman. I was reminded of this again while walking through the mall with my six year old. As we passed by the store, Pink with a picture of a teenage girl in revealing underwear, my son blurted out; “She’s showing off her bum!” In his innocent six year old eyes, bums are still funny, but the reality hit that soon he will not only notice, but will have to be taught how to process visuals such as these. We can’t sweep it under the rug and hope our young boys aren’t noticing. We need to walk them through the messages culture is giving them about women and their bodies.
I like what Benjamin Perrin states about a man’s learned sexual behavior; “While having sex is a basic biological function, men have to be socialized or induced to feel that it would be pleasurable to pay a stranger for sex. They have to be taught this. Paying for sex is a learned behavior, not a natural and uncontrollable urge.” I’m glad a man said it. My husband has much to say on this topic as well. He tells me often that a man is able to control his sexual urges, despite the men who state they can’t. My husband considers this to be the ultimate spiritual discipline. I don’t know about you, but as his wife, that is powerful for me to know. The safety and security that brings me as a woman is beyond it’s weight in gold. Imagine this was the reality taught to young men in our world?
It’s time we get back to the responsibility we have to the humanity of others. The purchasers of sex acts are just as responsible for the suffering the women they’ve used as are the traffickers supplying the women.
We need to be reminded what’s at stake. For minutes of pleasure, the buyer could lose everything. This goes beyond “getting caught”. We need to get back to the principle of prize of character in our lives: where we do what’s right when no one’s looking for nothing other than taking pride in our decisions and building ourselves as people of integrity. Even if one never gets caught, the darkness brought to the soul by terrorizing another human for pleasure is a dark hole that will leak into other decisions and areas of life eventually. One john tells his story: “At the height of my addiction I was spending tens of thousands of dollars on sex, drugs, and gambling every year. There was a lot of shame… porn movies, strip bars, pimps and drug dealers. The addiction cost me my business, my wife, my children and my freedom.”
The fact is: prostitution and trafficking remains because the demand remains. ”The more we pretend that human trafficking does not occur or that we bear no individual responsibility in battling it, the closer it will come to our front doors.” (Benjamin Perrin)
Oppression thrives where it is unseen and unheard. – Willam Wilberforce
What can we all do? Commit ourselves again to integrity and model and mentor the next generation in character well. Their lives depend on it.