Earlier tis week, I saw a series of articles which compelled me to write this blog. The first is a story from LA, near where I live. The sheriff is no longer allowing the description of children as prostitutes (http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-sheriff-children-sex-trafficking-20151021-story.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/la-will-no-longer-arrest-children-forced-into-sex-trafficking_5630fde3e4b0c66bae5a7469?section=women&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000046), instead he says they should be called and treated as victims. This is a change for the LAPD, which previously labelled teens as prostitutes, and they were treated as criminals. Moreover, shelters turned trafficked teens away as they were unprepared to handle a pimp returning for his "property" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_trafficking).
While older teens may consent to sex, it doesn't make sense to me, as a mother, that a preteen or young teen can, or would want to voluntarily. And, prostitution is sex without a relationship, which is what most teens who consent to sex are really wanting. Hence, I was glad to see this decision. Hopefully it will save many children from a life as a trafficking victim.
Then, there were a couple articles about human trafficking increasing since the earthquake in Nepal (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/25/nepal-earthquake-six-month-anniversary-children-orphans-people-traffickers and
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/opinion/sunday/meet-a-21st-century-slave.html?ref=opinion&_r=0). Both of these discuss how the disruption of society with many orphans due to the earthquake puts more children at risk, since the normal caregivers for children are absent, either due to death, or being even more stressed since the earthquake.
During World War II, Korean and Chinese women were forced to become prostitutes for the Japanese military. Each was raped approximately 50 times per week for an average of 3 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_women). In some cases these women were abducted, in others, lured with the promise of work. If they became pregnant, they were forced to have abortions and they were checked regularly for venereal disease. An estimated 200,000 women were Comfort Women in Asia. Finally, in 1994, Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama of Japan issued an apology and some of the women received compensation. Many of the women still suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder 60 years after the war.
Germany also forced women to become prostitutes. Prisoners in Ravensbruck Concentration Camp were frequently forced to provide sexual services for Germans (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_camp_brothels_in_World_War_II and http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/concentration-camp-bordellos-the-main-thing-was-to-survive-at-all-a-632558.html). Some of these women were sent to other concentration camp brothels. For some women, this was their only chance at survival. Should they become pregnant they were forced to have abortions.
In addition, brothels were established for the soldiers. In France, most of the women had been prostitutes before the war, but were forced to register and work in the German controlled brothels. In Eastern Europe, things were worse (http://www.scribd.com/doc/89860120/Victims-Heroes-Survivors-Sexual-Violence-on-the-Eastern-Front-During-World-War-II). Raids were held in Polish cities to capture young women and girls to supply them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_slavery#Germany_during_World_War_II). On at least one occasion, Polish and Russian women tried a mass escape in Norway (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_military_brothels_in_World_War_II#cite_note-Wprost-5). Frequently women had to service over 20 men in a day, sometimes up to 40 (http://www.scribd.com/doc/89860120/Victims-Heroes-Survivors-Sexual-Violence-on-the-Eastern-Front-During-World-War-II). Again, the women were checked regularly for venereal disease. If a woman contracted a venereal disease, and she was a Pole, Russian or Jew, she was simply shot. Similarly, she would be executed if she received 3 complaints. Some of the women were sterilized without anesthesia. The survivors have not received an apology or compensation, since they were deemed of "ill repute," even though they had been forced into the brothels, either directly, on threat of death, or in order to get the necessities of life.
The wife of one of my mother's cousins was forced to tolerate this slavery. The two were married shortly before the start of WWII. He fought with the Polish army, first in Poland, then France and finally with the British. After the war, he returned to find his wife. She had been swept up in one of the street raids and forced to work in a brothel for German soldiers. She was unable to relate to her husband after the war, and so the marriage was dissolved. He went on to rebuild his life; she went on to commit suicide.
More recently, rape on a large scale occurred in the former Yugoslavia (https://web.archive.org/web/20080529014548/http://www.wilpf.int.ch/publications/1992ruthseifert.htm). It also has occurred in many other wars, as war is an extreme case of male bonding.
However, even in countries not at war, sexual slavery exists on a large scale throughout the world. The UN estimates that approximately 2.4 million people are victims of human trafficking at any moment; 80% of these are trafficked for sex (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_trafficking). Low status for women is thought to put women at risk. Children are at even more risk, since they are vulnerable due to naivete, small size, and tendency to be intimidated. It has been estimated that there are 100,000 children who are trafficked in the US.
I am hopeful that viewing these children as the victims they are, rather than blamed for the repeated sexual assaults they endure. I see the new LAPD policy as a step that I hope to see replicated. Hopefully, efforts like the World Vision program in Nepal can be replicated to give vulnerable children a chance to have a life of their own (http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/oct/25/nepal-earthquake-six-month-anniversary-children-orphans-people-traffickers).