Behind the myth of the 'happy hooker' | World | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • Taking a stand
    July 6, 2013
    The Standing Man of Taksim Square helped revive the spirit of Turkey protests.
  • Internet revolutionary
    July 6, 2013
    Wael Ghonim proves uprisings too can be 'liked, shared & tweeted'.
  • Gun to the head
    June 29, 2013
    For Pakistan, it's time to harp on 'the Kashmir issue' again, this time with clear linkages to the mess in Afghanistan.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Global

Behind the myth of the 'happy hooker'

|


SEX SELLS: Generating an estimated $32 billion annually, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today

To stem trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and children, we need to address the root of the problem - the men who believe sex workers are doing it for the 'easy money'...

They brought us to a hotel and led us up a staircase - seven floors. I remember. . . wondering when they would let me go to my sister. The big Russian woman led us into a room with couches against the walls. There were men sitting, talking, drinking tea, laughing on the couches. One girl started to cry silently. I understood what was happening. . . They made the first girl stand in the middle of the room. They ordered her to take off her top. She hesitated so they beat her. Then it was my turn. I lifted my top for a second and pulled it right down. Then I noticed the curtains fluttering out the open window. . . Time slowed. I heard a ringing in my ears and the room faded. I remember that I said a prayer - 'God give me wings. ' I ran across the room and jumped over the men on the couch and out the window. "

When Marina woke up in the hospital she had shattered one leg and broken the other. It was only then she discovered that the Russian woman she had paid to take her to Italy had taken her to Istanbul instead and sold her to modern-day slavers. She was one of several women being auctioned to brothel owners when she jumped out the hotel window.

Today, Marina lives in Drotcia, her native village. One of her legs is held together by a pin and she walks with a pronounced limp. She continues to suffer from nightmares and headaches. Yet, hers is a rare success story. Many thousands of other women from Russia and Eastern Europe are not so lucky.

The United Nations estimates that between 800, 000 and four million men, women and children are deceived, recruited, transported from their homes and sold into slavery around the world each year. Eighty per cent are women, girls and young boys trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation.

Generating an estimated $32 billion annually, human trafficking is the fastest-growing criminal activity in the world today. It is also the most lucrative. According to a 2005 International Labour Office (ILO) report, just a single female held for sexual exploitation yields an average of $67, 200 annually in Western Europe and North America.

Western demand for East European prostitutes fuels today's sex-slave industry. Currently, the market for Slavic woman and children in brothels and in pornography in "developed" countries - particularly the EU and the US - is the hottest compared to other parts of the world, and is drawing on an endless supply of impoverished and vulnerable women.

A multitude of recent studies try to explain why women get snared into the trade in flesh. Researchers point to poverty, chronic unemployment, domestic violence and drug addiction as the primary "push factors. " But there isn't enough discussion of the real root of the problem - the men. Human trafficking is basically international sexual terrorism perpetrated against women and children on a mass scale by men. It is their demand for illicit or predatory sex that generates huge profits for the slavers and leaves behind the tortured minds and broken bodies of those women and children they violate. According to a 2008 study by the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, the majority of men who buy prostitutes do so in order to obtain sex they are uncomfortable asking for. As one interviewee put it, "I want to pay someone to do something a normal person wouldn't do. To piss on someone or pay someone to do something degrading. " The same study revealed that Johns subscribe to a tremendous amount of denial - 87 per cent thought women choose prostitution, "just like any job, " and 64 per cent believed that the women they bought were sexually satisfied by the encounter.

Though corresponding data isn't easily accessible in Eastern Europe, it is widely assumed by experts that men in most countries share the same beliefs. Research suggests that in most countries men buy women with impunity. For example, Victor Malarek, in his recent book, The Johns, cites numerous international studies that estimate that approximately 70 per cent of men in southeast Asia and Japan buy sex;and between 19 and 39 per cent of European men regularly buy sex depending on the country.

And yet, the vast majority of women worldwide who engage in prostitution endure extreme abuse and violence, ranging from being raped to being kicked while pregnant or being choked with wire. Many prostitutes interviewed in a US survey in 2004 said they had been punched, burned with cigarettes, hit with baseball bats and had their heads slammed into walls and floors, or held underwater in the toilet. That same survey revealed that 64 per cent of women suffered permanent disabilities as a result of beatings and 33 per cent had sodomy forced upon them. A 2006 British study held similar findings - 80 per cent reported being "severely" beaten and 90 per cent were forced into engaging in sexual acts they refused to perform.

If we are to really address the horror of the buying, selling and trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation, then we must make efforts to stop the demand by making the buying of sex a crime with harsh penalties. At the same time, the selling of sex should be decriminalised so that the women, already victims, are not further abused by the penal and immigration systems. Legalisation of prostitution only exacerbates slavery - human trafficking flourishes where prostitution is legal. It is time we recognise that the commodification of women and children is a nefarious form of sexual violence and stop pretending that it is benign.

Prostitution is rarely a free choice and it is never a preferred career path. Behind the myth of the "happy hooker" hides a horrific human rights abuse.

The author is a professor of Russian and Eastern European law at California State University in Chico, California

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service