Charito† dropped out of elementary school to find work in order to help her impoverished family. She worked odd jobs babysitting or working as a maid, and then she met a woman who promised her a good job in a nearby city. It was, however, a lie. At just 14 years old, Charito was trafficked to a large entertainment club in Cebu, Philippines. “They treated us like animals,” Charito said years later, remembering how she was sold for sex night after night. She added, “I never thought it would happen to me.” Human trafficking erodes the dignity God has intended for his children and our communities. God has made us in his glorious image to display his majesty, but human trafficking converts people, the objects of our Father’s affections, into tools for profit and perverted pleasure of the powerful in society. Perhaps the most brutal form of human trafficking is the massive global business of rape for profit called sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, provision, or obtaining of a person in order that a commercial sex act can be induced by force, fraud, coercion, or great vulnerability. Trafficked persons—predominantly women and  children—are often targeted because of desperation and tricked with the promise of a good job. Some are kidnapped and drugged only to find out upon waking up that they are trapped in a brothel and forced to provide sex to customers. In some instances, victims are sold by family members in order to pay medical bills or family debts. According to UNICEF, nearly two million children are used globally in the commercial sex trade. My colleague, Sharon Cohn Wu, rightly observes that “more than any other human rights abuse I can think of, forced prostitution—rape for profit—tears down the person completely, [and] just strips away who they are.” Human trafficking also breaks down a community’s sense of the value of human life. In the Philippines, the on-going, open sale of children for sex is both a sign of their broken down lives and of the community’s broken down defenses. This year, the US Department of State correctly observed the sex trafficking situation in the Philippines: “[h]undreds of victims are subjected to sex trafficking each day in well-known and highly visible business establishments that cater to Filipinos’ and foreign tourists’ demand for commercial sex acts.” Over the weeks, months, and years, the public sale of girls and boys and vulnerable women for sex reinforces unspoken beliefs that some people are less worthy of protection, and that some abusers are too strong for the community to stand up against.

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By