Slavery by Other Means

Rachel Wong

Sex trafficking is a serious problem around the globe and is common even in developing countries. The trifficked are living their life on an earthly hell through forced sexual slavery, including forced prostitution, single-owner sexual slavery and ritual slavery. Although deemed illegal in many countries, sex trafficking remains a profitable trading business in the black market and seems to be unstoppable. 


Victims of Sex Trafficking [Depicted by Karen Yuen]Sexual slavery has a long history. There are countless cases of such throughout the course of human history. The Shōwa Japanese caught no less than 200,000 women during World War II and forced them to serve the Japanese as the soldiers’ ‘comfort women’. In addition to that number, over 34,000 European women were captured and forced into prostitution during the same period. Most were caught by the Nazi German’s random kidnapping raids on the streets of Poland.

 Nowadays, sex trafficking is still active. It is in fact more profitable than trading drugs and armaments. The U.S. government has estimated that 20,000 to 100,000 female are currently forced into prostitution in the States, some of which are still children. Another statistic shows that there are about 500,000 women working as prostitutes in Central and Eastern Europe alone. In Asia, thousands of women sold into or out of China are forced into prostitution every year. More than 200,000 Nepali girls, many under the age of 14, have been sold into sex trafficking in India. Japan is the major purchaser for trafficked women in Asia with most victims from Thailand and the Philippines. About 300,000 people, ranging from women to children, are involved in the sex trade throughout Southeast Asia. In Cambodia at least a quarter of its 200,000 victims are children. The UNICEF estimated a number of 60,000 child prostitutes in the Philippines. Many of the 200 brothels in the Notorious Angeles CIty offer children for sex. The situation in the Middle East is no better. Just for Syria alone, there are about 50,000 Iraqi refugees serving as prostitutes, among whom a lot of widows can be found. The inexpensive service provided by Iraqi prostitutes have helped to make Syria a popular destination for sex tourists. In Pakistan, many young girls are sold by familes to brothels to repay the family debt despite the illegal status of such trades. Moreover, many girls in Afganistan are tricked by agents to work in Pakistan for the ‘well-paid job’.

Apart from the humiliation, these victims face health risks both physically and psychologically. They are prone to venereal diseases such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDs) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Many are forced to have drugs and alcohol during their ‘service’ and become addicts. Some are even assaulted by their abusers, resulting in traumatic brain injury, and bruises over their bodies. Psychologically, victims often feel shameful and frightened of what they do. Over time, some cannot bear the suffering and either commit suicide or develop masochism.

Many organizations are now in action to help these people, but solving the problem of sex trafficking needs international cooperation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service is helping the victims by enabling them to receive federally funded benefits and services as refugees. In Britain, the Home Office has unveiled plans to combat gangs which imprison women and force them into the sex trade. The government wil allow freed victims to stay for at least 30 days for counselling. In China, policies had opened more than 28,000 trafficking cases between 2001 to 2005, arrested more than 25,000 traffickers and rescued no less than 30,000 victims. The Chinese government will also provide short-term shelters and medical care to trafficking victims. They will be assited later with repatriation by NGOs, specifically the All-China Women;s Federation and Save the Children Organization. With funding from the Chinese government, the All-China Women’s Federation provides counselling on legal rights and psychological treament on the victims.


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