Sexual Slavery

Like countless girls around the world, Irina longed to escape the limitations of life in a small village—in her case, a village in Ukraine. So she answered an ad in a newspaper. Before long, Irina found herself sharing something else with millions of girls around the world: life as a sexual slave. The ad promised Irina a job as a dancer in Israel. But, soon after arriving, Irina was taken to a brothel where her boss burned her passport. He told her, "I own you… you are my property. You will work [as a prostitute] until you earn your way out." After she was beaten and raped, Irina acquiesced. When the brothel was raided, she was arrested. And now as an illegal immigrant, the best she can hope for is deportation back to Ukraine. As sordid as this story is, it's far from rare. As the New York Times puts it, "Selling naïve and desperate young women into sexual bondage has become one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises." The numbers are shocking: Every year, an estimated one million Asian children and another million children worldwide are forced into the sex trade. In fact, massive trafficking in children below the age of 14 may be the fastest-growing element of this unspeakable enterprise because clients believe they have less chance of acquiring AIDS through exploiting younger children. The problem isn't limited to Asia and the Middle East. Mexican children are sent to U.S. brothels catering to migrant workers. What's almost as outrageous is the indifference of governments around the world. In Russia, where law and order has clearly broken down, the government does little to interfere with the Russian Mafia, which is behind much of the sex trade. And even in the West, law enforcement is lax. Authorities just look the other way when it comes to prostitution in many countries. And amazingly, many countries, like Israel, have no law against selling another human being. All of this makes prosecuting traffickers difficult. Well, something has to be done, and feminists—the so-called defenders of women, at least when it comes to abortion—are strangely silent on this issue. I say Christians ought to take the lead, just as they did in ending the slave trade in the nineteenth century. That's because Christians then and now understand that slavery of any kind is a violation of every human’s God-given dignity. A good place to start would be to support legislation that will soon be offered by two great defenders of human rights; Reps. Chris Smith of New Jersey and Frank Wolf of Virginia. The bill, called the Freedom from Sexual Trafficking Act of 1999, would make it a crime, equivalent to first-degree rape, to abduct or trick women into the sex trade. The legislation would also require that other countries, in order to qualify for non-humanitarian aid from the U.S., adopt similar laws and show evidence of real efforts at prosecuting offenders. We are going to need Christians to pitch in, as was the case with the Religious Persecution Act last year, because much of the business community and the foreign policy establishment will likely oppose it. But Christians have always been the most dependable advocates of human rights. Irina admits that her actions were "stupid." True enough, but it's time for civilized governments to punish the perpetrators of crimes like this—not the victims.


Chuck Colson


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