In America, humans are for sale.
Slavery is alive and well in the form of human trafficking and prostitution. We have exchanged the auction block for the street corner, open bidding for quiet transactions.
Harriet Jacobs, a black slave in the 1800s, wrote about her master’s unwanted sexual advances, remembering: “He told me I was his property; that I must be subject to his will in all things.” Far from being ancient history, this horror is echoed today in a world where millions of people have been abandoned to the sex trades in all its ugly facets.
Often referred to as “modern-day slavery,” human trafficking has attracted widespread attention. John Kerry’s remarks at the release of the 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report referenced the commonly accepted definition that “sex trafficking [is when] a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or [when] the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age…”
No reasonable person would deny that victims of human trafficking for sexual abuse are true victims.
They are often beaten or tortured by their pimps or johns—the men who pay to use them. They are regularly raped. They are vulnerable to STDs, depression, drug or alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and so much more. They are forced or manipulated from an early age to give up their personal autonomy and to view themselves through the eyes of their oppressor.
“He told me that he was a pimp and I was his property,” Asia Graves, a victim of human trafficking, stated in a testimony before a U.S. Senate Committee. These abuses are clearly a form of slavery.
However, the clarity of what constitutes enslavement is lost when it comes to the oppression of prostitution.