|"What is relevant is that children are being enslaved..."|
Book Club Review: "Half the Sky" - Chapter Two - Prohibition and Prostitution
The authors use Chapter 2 to discuss some of the problems that are inherent in trying to rescue women and children from the sexual trafficking nightmare that is deeply entrenched around the world. It is important for us not to oversimplify the issue and rush to judgment about how to solve the problem.
Chapter Two begins with an analysis of the conflicting approaches to solving the problem, essentially broken down into two divergent points of view. The more liberal establishment prefers to view prostitution as a necessary evil that will always be with us, and, as such, should simply be legalized and regulated. The more conservative side of the argument leans toward the “big stick” approach, that is, no legalization, but stricter laws and enforcement to protect women, especially minors from trafficking. The authors started out on the side of legalization and then moved to the big stick approach when they saw the considerable pitfalls and failures of the legalization model.
There is so much contained in this discussion of possible solutions, it would take much more time and space to detail them then I have space for in this post! Hopefully, we will get into some of the specifics in the discussion part of this post.
The authors close Chapter Two with a section they entitle “Rescuing Girls is the Easy Part”. In this section, the authors follow the stories of two teenage victims of trafficking, whom they successfully rescue by buying them out of slavery. The tragic truth that is revealed in the case of “Momm” is that many of these young girls become so addicted to the drugs that were used to enslave them, that they return to the brothels voluntarily, simply to get their fix. Further, her story reveals that many of these young girls become even more devalued as they mature physically and can no longer command the high price they did as young girls. At that point, many of them begin to train as “managers” of other young victims, and become the “perpetrator of the abuse” to other young girls who are caught in the net of sexual exploitation just as they were originally. Although tempting to judge and condemn the girls who adopt this behavior, we have never known the hell they have lived through that would lead them to such desperate acts.
As Christians, we are called to pray for those that are trapped inside the darkness of the world of sexual trafficking and prostitution. I hear the voice of Jesus reminding us that: “I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me...” Matthew 25:38 God's compassion for these young victims is the most compelling reason for us to become aware and seek His vision. This is not, I believe, a problem that should be labeled either liberal or conservative, Christian or non-christian, but rather a human tragedy that affects us all.
Questions for Discussion:
What do you think of the “Big Stick: vs. the “Legalize and Regulate” approaches to this issue?
Do you agree with the author's premise that the division between liberals and conservatives benefits the slave trade industry? How would you resolve this issue?
On Page 28, Nick is criticized by a native Indian for “interfering” in Indian affairs. Among other things, he accuses Nick of “Your stance...smacks of the Western missionary position of rescuing brown savages from their fate.” What's your opinion of that accusation? Is it valid/invalid? Why?
On Page 26, a rescue worker on the ground, Ruchira Gupta, spurns the whole debate that the left and the right are engaged in on this issue, dismissing it as a “theoretical framework at universities.” She states: “Very few of those theorists come to the grassroots and see what is going on. The whole debate about what we should call the problem is irrelevant. What is relevant is that children are being enslaved.” Your thoughts on her comments?
The opening story about the border guard who laughs and dismisses the problem of sexual trafficking, reveals a core premise to the growth of this industry: Some human beings are less valuable than others and can be exploited. Nick states his view of the problem on p. 24: “People get away with enslaving village girls for the same reason that people got away with enslaving blacks 200 years ago: The victims are perceived as discounted humans...When India feels that the West cares as much about slavery as it does about pirated DVDs, it will dispatch people to the borders to stop traffickers.” Is this a legitimate criticism of our part in the problem?
Note: Please feel free to comment on any or all of the questions, as well as any other area you would like to discuss. I found this chapter to be very enlightening on this subject. Still find myself wanting to turn off and look the other way. This is tough material to digest. But, we are not called to sit on the sidelines and cover our eyes with blindfolds so as not to see a painful problem. I have found the need though, to prepare for the reading with prayer and to sometimes stop reading and pray in the middle of it. This book is an expose of evil and we should not go blithely into this reading without appropriate preparation. I strongly encourage you to use “the weapons of our warfare” and put on the “full armor of God” before engaging in this battle.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:10-13
Next Friday: Chapter 3