Tag archives: sexual exploitation

Texas Pardons a Sex Trafficking Survivor, Freeing Her to Help Other Survivors

by Patrina Mosley

January 14, 2020

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. In light of this observance, Governor Abbott recently pardoned Robbie Ann Hamilton, a survivor of sex trafficking, with a unanimous vote from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. By this action, Texas has shown that they believe not only in swift justice but also merciful redemption.

Victims of sex trafficking are accustomed to drugs and violence and are often forced to commit crimes while under the control and manipulation of a trafficker. Hamilton was 15 years old when she was lured into sex trafficking and a life of petty crime.

Pardoning victims of sex trafficking is a big deal because a criminal record makes it challenging to escape a life of exploitation and start a new life. Victims with a criminal record will often stay with their exploiter or be led back into exploitation just so they can have the necessities of life (a roof over their head, clothes, food, etc.).

Hamilton found sobriety. Even better, she found God. She was baptized in jail and spent time getting to know Jesus and the Bible. She was sponsored for pardon by the 12 Step Program. Now, Hamilton speaks on the sex trafficking industry’s dangers and addictions and is a member of a church that helps people who were just like her. Staff from the program she completed, called “New Friends New Life,” have testified that she didn’t just “find religion” in jail but “continues to help guide adolescent girls to make decisions based on Biblical principles and to avoid the pitfalls of drugs and sex.” Natalie Nanasi, Assistant Professor and the Director of the Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law, states, “Hamilton has been a model member of society and has worked tirelessly to help other women.” Eight letters of support were submitted on Hamilton’s behalf to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

It is good to see our justice system working to view survivors of sexual exploitation as victims and not merely criminals, as it should. We need more Christian-based programs that rescue, advocate for, re-educate, and restore those harmed by sexual exploitation. The story of Robbie Ann Hamilton exemplifies what victims of sexual exploitation need—to become recipients of practical alleviations—so that they can be given the opportunity to help other victims “value human dignity [by] applying a biblical sexual ethic, inspiring women to see themselves as made in the image of God—with strength, worth, and dignity.”

Thank you, Gov. Abbott.

How Game of Thrones Mainstreamed Sexual Exploitation

by Laura Grossberndt

November 25, 2019

The HBO television show Game of Thrones enjoyed much critical and popular acclaim during its eight-season run. It was heralded as “the world’s most popular show,” and its series finale drew 19.3 million viewers. However, this massive success was built, in part, upon the exhibition of its actors’ naked bodies in graphic, sexually charged situations—all for viewers’ entertainment. A recent interview with British actress and former Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke reveals her pain of being exposed for the camera. Her account should serve as a chilling reminder that the entertainment we choose to consume has consequences.

Clarke recalls being 23 years old and fresh out of acting school when she was offered the part of Daenerys Targaryen. She was eager to have a job on a film set, but when she received the script and learned that her character would be naked and brutally raped on-screen, Clarke was shocked and apprehensive.

I have no idea what I’m doing; I have no idea what any of this is…. I’ve been on a film set twice before then, and now I’m on a film set, completely naked, with all of these people—and I don’t know what I’m meant to do, and I don’t know what’s expected of me, and I don’t know what you want, and I don’t know what I want. Regardless of whether there’d be nudity or not, I would have spent that first season thinking, I’m not worthy of requiring anything; I’m not worthy of needing anything at all.

Clarke says she drank vodka and cried in a bathroom while trying to cope with filming the rape scene. Since that time, she has been repeatedly pressured to do nude scenes. Producers would try to coerce her, saying things like, “You don’t wanna disappoint your Game of Thrones fans.”

Most poignant about Clarke’s account of her early days on the set of Game of Thrones is her feeling of helplessness. Many women whose bodies have been exploited via the commercial sex trade and the porn industry have felt similarly powerless. That is because selling the human body is not female empowerment, but human abasement.

Movies and television shows such as Game of Thrones enjoy a patina of respectability due to their complex plots, extensive viewership, and numerous awards—making them more palatable to a wide audience than a pornographic film would be. However, by treating human sexuality as a commodity, Game of Thrones and its ilk are just another incarnation of the commercial sex trade.

In October of this year, I attended a D.C. Council hearing on the proposed decriminalization of the buying and selling of sex in the nation’s capital. Many of the witnesses opposing decriminalization were survivors of the commercial sex trade. Several of these survivors explained how it is common to turn to drugs and/or alcohol to deal with the anxiety, stress, and shame felt as a result of their bodies being bought and sold for others’ sexual pleasure.

Other witnesses, who were still presently engaged in prostitution, were in favor of decriminalizing the commercial sex trade. Tragically, they believed their economic wellbeing depended on selling themselves. They did not realize that their willingness to be sold (due to their desperate financial situation) makes them no less victims of sexual exploitation than those forced into the commercial sex trade by a trafficker. Choosing to be exploited, out of fear of retribution or financial ruin, is not much of a choice at all.

While the circumstances surrounding Clarke’s performance—e.g., her acting school training, the show’s critical acclaim and distribution on a major cable network—may have lent her some dignity not afforded to women who are trafficked, the trauma that drove her to tears and drinking is strikingly similar to the experiences of the sexually exploited. Feigning graphic sexual acts on a film set is not very different than any other type of commercial sex trade in that it demeans human beings and degrades human sexuality.

Consuming sexually violent and explicit media not only damages our mental, physical, and spiritual health, it negatively impacts those around us by creating a demand for this type of entertainment, motivating the entertainment industry to create sexually graphic content in order to meet the demand and increase profits. The industry will, in turn, pressure actors (particularly women) to degrade themselves in front of the camera. Christians and anyone who advocates for women’s dignity should oppose media that exploits human beings in such an offensive and toxic manner.

Prostitution: Women Deserve Better (Part 1)

by Patrina Mosley

June 20, 2019

One woman described her experience of the sex of prostitution very succinctly when she referred to it as: ‘Paid rape.’ … . another woman described it as ‘like signing a contract to be raped’ … I described prostitution as ‘being raped for a living.’” (National Center on Sexual Exploitation report)

In places like D.C. and New York, the possibility of decriminalizing prostitution has come back on the horizon. Activists are now referring to prostitution as “sex work”—a deceptive term used to label the buying and selling of human beings for sex as a legitimate profession. This concept was even being promoted to teenage girls in Teen Vogue, with the headline “Why Sex Work is Real Work.” To legitimize men buying women for sex is to say that men have a right to women’s bodies by default. This should enrage every feminist to the core and cause them to come clawing in like a mama bear on anyone who tells teen girls that “men buying your body is a legitimate profession for your future.”

The commercial sex trade is sexual exploitation—it should never be somebody’s job to be exploited by another human being.

That being said, we should not discount the various factors that play a part in leading some women to the commercial sex trade. Often, these women have been sexually abused, come from broken homes, face drug and alcohol addiction, and have been emotionally comprised, manipulated, lured, coerced, or forced into prostitution. To glamorize a system that preys upon these vulnerabilities and is only sustained by dehumanizing the individual is inherently evil.

In reality, there are no good arguments for why it is okay to buy and sell anyone for sex. In 2013, Business Insider published an article advocating for the decriminalization of prostitution in the United States. None of the arguments made back then have changed significantly to this day, and they are still used to spread current misconceptions about prostitution.

Would Legalizing Prostitution Reduce Violence Against Women?

No. A study published in the Journal of Trauma Practice indicates that violence is prevalent within the world of prostitution and tends to be multi-traumatic. The study contained 854 individuals (women, girls, and transgendered people) currently or recently in prostitution in nine countries (Canada, Colombia, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United States, and Zambia). According to the study (as reported by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation):

Some of those interviewed had been trafficked for the purpose of prostitution and were engaged in legal prostitution. Types and amount of violence experienced in prostitution are as follows:

  • 71% physically assaulted;
  • 57% raped; of those raped, 59% were raped more than 5 times;
  • 64% threatened with a weapon;
  • 88% verbal abuse;
  • 49% had pornography made of them;
  • 47% were upset by attempts to coerce them to perform something a sex buyer had seen in pornography;
  • In Germany, where prostitution is legal, 59% responded that prostitution is not safer with legalization;
  • 89% wanted to exit prostitution.
  • Equating prostitution with death, one woman stated, “Why commit suicide? I’ll work in prostitution instead (p. 53).”

The same study reported that 68 percent of women in prostitution met the criteria for PTSD.

Here are some more disturbing statistics from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s report:

  • Interviews of 100 individuals (females (42%), males (32%), and transgender males (26%)) involved in street-based prostitution in inner city Washington, D.C., found high incidents of violence. Since entering prostitution, 61% reported being physically assaulted, with the majority being perpetrated by sexual buyers (75%).”
  • A study of 106 women involved in street-based prostitution conducted in New York City reported types and amounts of violence experience while in prostitution included: Physical abuse (45.3%), Sexual abuse (34.9%), and Physical and sexual abuse (50.0%).”
  • An investigation into the mortality rate of women in prostitution revealed that the leading cause of death was homicide (19%) and found that actively prostituting women were nearly 18 times more likely to be murdered than women of similar age and race during the study interval.”

Dear Teen Vogue, does this sound like the type of “purchasing intimacy” you want girls to go into?

The Business Insider piece was shockingly written by a female who even acknowledged the violence perpetrated on women in prostitution by citing two studies, one from San Francisco where it was found that 82% of prostitutes “had been assaulted and 68% had been raped while working as prostitutes,” and another study in Colorado Springs that found prostitutes were “18 times more likely to be murdered than non-prostitutes their age and race”—yet the argument is made that because prostitution is illegal, these women can’t call for help when their hazardous “work” conditions are too dangerous.

Do any of these statistics sound like proper “work” for any individual? Why are women allowing other people to tell them that they should settle for this as “work”?

The answer is not to legitimize something bad so less bad things will happen, but to confront injustice with justice.

Prostitution clearly isn’t work, it’s paid violence against women.

Even a self-identified former prostitute and D.C. activist for legalizing prostitution shared her story of violence in the trade: “I myself am a former sex worker and faced violence that I couldn’t report to anyone. I have been stabbed several times, beaten and chased by a car. There were times I could have remembered license plates or at least reported the incidents; but because sex work is criminalized, these dangerous people, they’re still out there.”

Wrong. These people are still out there because we fail to prosecute buyers of sex and pimps as much as we do the women who prostitute.

Attitudes of Male Buyers Towards Prostitutes

After interviewing 16 women (aged 20-38) incarcerated for prostitution-related offenses, the authors noted:

Once a prostitute has consented to any exchange of sex for money, these women see many men as assuming that she has given up the right to refuse consent in any situation. Once her sexuality has been ‘purchased,’ her body ‘belongs’ to the purchaser to use. This was the constant theme in the interviews. Many women encountered men who treated their agreement to engage in some form of sex as permission to abuse the women’s bodies in any way they wished, as long as they gave the women monetary compensation.”

The study “Deconstructing The Demand for Prostitution: Preliminary Insights From Interviews With Chicago Men Who Purchase Sex” interviewed 113 self-reported male buyers face-to-face, recruited in advertisements in free publications and on Craigslist. Here are some of the findings:

  • 46% “purchased sex in order to obtain sex acts they either felt uncomfortable asking of their partner or which their partner refused to perform,” including oral and anal sex.
  • 43% said if they pay for sex, the woman should do anything they ask.
  • 13% “would rape a woman if they knew they could get away with it.”
  • 19% admitted to raping a woman.
  • 57% “believed that the majority of women in prostitution experienced some type of childhood abuse.”
  • 32% thought the majority of women had entered prostitution before the age of 18.
  • 20% “thought that they had bought sex from women who were trafficked from other countries.”
  • 75% have seen women with a pimp.
  • 40% knowingly bought a woman in prostitution who was under pimp/trafficker control.

Here are some verbatim comments from buyers:

She has no rights because you are paying for a sex act- she gives up the right to say no.”

…she gave up her rights when she accepted my money.”

Prostitutes are like a product, like cereal. You go to the grocery, pick the brand you want, and pay for it. It’s business.”

I almost killed a hooker because she tried to run off with my money and I wasn’t going to let her. I used the blunt side of the knife. She tried to leave the car. We struggled for awhile. I wanted to scare her, so I put the blunt side of the knife to her throat. Somehow there was blood, and she gave the money back. I left her lying down in the street. I didn’t even want the money no more.”

Stay tuned for a multi-part series to see how prostitution is linked to sex trafficking and the path forward for going after the perpetrators of sexual exploitation.

Read Part 2Part 3Part 4, and Part 5.

Does the Sexual Predation of Children Have to be Tolerated and Ignored?

by Chris Gacek

November 3, 2014

Police authorities in Rotherham, U.K.(near Sheffield), allowed at least 1,400 children to be sexually exploited and trafficked by members of the local Pakistani community in a period from 1997 to 2013. The authorities did not properly investigate or stop the crimes for fear of being called racist or Islamophobic. A stunning independent report on the crimes and governmental inaction was released in August 2014.

On October 30th, Helen Pidd, the northern editor of The Guardian (U.K.), noted last week in a powerful article that widespread sexual exploitation is taking place in another major English city:

Sexual exploitation of vulnerable children has become the social norm in some parts of Greater Manchester, fuelled by explicit music videos and quasi-pornographic selfies, an MP has warned.
The systematic grooming of boys and girls remains a “real and ongoing problem”, a year after Greater Manchester police (GMP) was forced to admit it had failed abuse victims in Rochdale, said Ann Coffey, a former social worker who is now the Labour MP for Stockport. “My observations will make painful reading for those who hoped that Rochdale was an isolated case,” she writes in a significant report.

In a related article, Ms. Pidd, quotes the senior Crown prosecutor, Nazir Afzal, for the region as saying:

The Muslim community must accept and address the fact that Asian and Pakistani men are disproportionately involved in “localised, street grooming” of vulnerable girls, one of the UK’s most senior prosecutors has said.

Sheffield-Rotherham are not located in the Greater Manchester area. They are different municipalities with similarly horrifying patterns of criminal sexual behavior. (For more on Rotterham, go to this article from the blog, Legal Insurrection.)

My colleague, Cathy Ruse, pulled a few quotes from the executive summary of the August 2014 Rotherham report:

No one knows the true scale of child sexual exploitation (CSE) in Rotherham over the years. Our conservative estimate is that approximately 1400 children were sexually exploited over the full Inquiry period, from 1997 to 2013.
In just over a third of cases, children affected by sexual exploitation were previously known to services because of child protection and neglect. It is hard to describe the appalling nature of the abuse that child victims suffered. They were raped by multiple perpetrators, trafficked to other towns and cities in the north of England, abducted, beaten, and intimidated. There were examples of children who had been doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight, threatened with guns, made to witness brutally violent rapes and threatened they would be next if they told anyone.
Girls as young as 11 were raped by large numbers of male perpetrators.
This abuse is not confined to the past but continues to this day.

Please don’t think that this is not also happening in the United States. Sex trafficking experts tell FRC that activities of this type occur all across America too.

If you don’t believe that the American law enforcement institutions may have little interest or sympathy in sex trafficking, I refer you back a few years to the keelhauling of a young US attorney, Rachel Paulose, in Minneapolis back in 2007. Even an article in a left-wing periodical had to note that Paulose had accomplishments that were typically worthy of praise. The Salon article related an interesting point made by Professor Donna Hughes, one of the leading experts on sex trafficking in America:

But Paulose did have her defenders. For example, there’s Donna Hughes, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, who suggested that Paulose was being attacked because of her prosecution of human trafficking cases.
Asked whether she had any direct evidence that Paulose was targeted because of her office’s efforts against trafficking, Hughes responded, “Rachel Paulose was the leading prosecutor of sex trafficking cases in the U.S. She took over an office where there had previously been no trafficking prosecutions and turned it into the leading one. Therefore, our coalition has serious concerns when a problem erupts that results in her leaving office.”

Let’s all hope that in five to ten years we won’t have to witness the release of a Rotterham-type report on massive, widespread sex-trafficking in the Twin Cities.

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