Last month, I discovered five child pornography CDs that had been hidden, since 2002, behind tall art books in my family room. They’d been missed by the federal agents who swept into the house three years later. Since then, I’ve been reading articles almost daily about girls and women who are being trafficked for slave labor and sex. It is these girls who appear in the child pornography photos – the ones Paul downloaded from the internet and saved on CDs, now destroyed and discarded by me.
The columns of N.Y. Times writer Nicholas Kristof are the most consistently informative on trafficking girls and women. He often features an individual girl who was sold or kidnapped and leads a brutal life from which she can’t escape. Her pimp tells her that if she leaves, her sister will be kidnapped ,in order to replace her. Or maybe others in her family will be murdered. She is trapped.
Two articles forced their way past my eyes into my heart this week. Huffington Post reported that the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said that 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking worldwide and 80% of them are forced to work as sexual slaves. These are staggering numbers.
Today’s N.Y. Times writes of an increase in what they call Brothel Tourism, in Spain. It’s considered just another form of recreation, by some. At the end of many business meetings, the participants have dinner and then afterwards, visit a brothel. The girls who are the sex workers in these places were enticed to move from a country, such as Romania, by promises of a good job and opportunity. Instead, they find themselves trapped, working on the street. Threats of violence or death keep them there.
After Paul’s arrest, when I found out what he was really doing, glued to the computer monitor for hours on end, I thought, naively and inaccurately, that he was “Only Looking”. He wasn’t doing anything really wrong, like touching a girl. These articles reinforce the truth that I was wrong. Only looking, when the girls have been sold or stolen from their families is criminal. Enabling the photos to proliferate on the internet will entice more men to “only look”.
While this story takes place in Spain, there are horrors everywhere, including the United States. I hope these stories raise the awareness of citizens who read about them and cause authorities to act. It’s too complicated a situation to think that merely passing a regulation to outlaw such slavery will make a difference. It will take so much more than that. Awareness of the life of trafficked girls is a first start. Keep the articles coming.