Selling women for sex

A stepfather living in poverty is desperate for money. He is so desperate that he would do anything. That is when he decides to sell his 14-year-old stepdaughter into bondage.

The innocent girl is taken to a city in Bombay where she is forced to work in a brothel. Her first client pays $175 to be the first to touch her virgin body. Day after day for four years the girl works unwillingly in the sex industry. Until one day she escapes-only to learn that at 18, she is HIV positive. She is too ashamed to return to her former city, so now she spends her days living in a shelter in Katmandu.

This story is just one example of the “horrifying ways women are forced into prostitution,” said NKU philosophy Professor Nancy Slonneger Hancock in her lecture “Selling Humanity? Global Trafficking of Women.” The Women’s Studies Department on Tuesday, March 18 in the Otto Budig Center sponsored the lecture.

Hancock cited the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights saying, “At its core, trafficking is about the process of reducing human beings to property. It all boils down to the fact that money is being made at the women’s expense.”

At least 50,000 to 100,000 women and children are trafficked in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Department of State website. They define trafficking as, “all acts involved in recruitment, abduction, transport, harboring, transfer, sale or receipt of persons through various types of coercion, force, fraud or deception for the purpose of placing persons in situations of slavery or slavery-like conditions, servitude, forced labor or services.”

In her lecture, Hancock’s main focus was forced prostitution. Hancock gave examples of how women are lured from less industrialized countries into ones which are more modern. She said that traffickers understand the women they lure are living in poverty, and looking for a way to escape. Often, they will tempt a woman with job offers such as an au pair or a barmaid. Once the woman enters the country the traffickers would confiscate her travel papers, beat her, rape her, all the while using death threats to force her to remain passive, Hancock said.

After the traffickers force her into submission the woman could be sent anywhere in the country, including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. “Brothels are not just in big cities,” Hancock said. “But in mid-western ones too.”

Hancock explained that it is difficult for the women because, not only must they work long hours with an average of 30-50 “clients” a day, but are also denied medical care while having unprotected sex. To make the situation worse, many times she cannot even speak the language of the country where she is being held captive.

Not only is it difficult for women, but also it is difficult for countries to control the situation. Because the sex industry is always moving, and police are not informed on the women’s situation, Hancock said.

“We hear about prostitution rings being broken, but not about the women.” To solve this problem, Hancock said, we need to look at this situation in a humanitarian way.

“The challenge we face is in getting states to see and respect, at the most basic level, the humanity of all victims and to get states to work with victims/survivors in a way that demonstrates their commitment to protecting equality and dignity of all human beings.”