One Woman’s Fight Against Human Trafficking

Only a European feminist could believe that legalizing prostitution would reduce it. But the European Women’s Lobby goes even further than that. They believe legalization will not only reduce prostitution, they think legalization will abolish it altogether.

Their campaign spouts a lot of typical feminist mumbo-jumbo; primarily that prostitution is a part of the patriarchal economic subjugation of women. This is the reason they only want to punish the men. They want the offer of sex for money to be legal but the offer of money for sex to be illegal.

As part of their campaign they are running a fairly effective ad showing the boring, inhumanity of the sex trade:

A man answers a door. A jaunty elderly lady enters, pats him on the cheek, drops some cash on the table, drops her panties, lies on a bed and is orally serviced by the man. She leaves. He brushes his teeth and gargles. A moment later, another knock, another unattractive woman, more gargling. And on and on and on.

The ad is aimed at prostitution-minded men and is supposed to pique their conscience. He is supposed to see himself in the seemingly endless parade of unattractive women, which mirrors the reality of female prostitutes who see more John Goodman’s than Mel Gibson’s.

Besides the ad, the other thing the EWL gets right is their unblinking condemnation of prostitution. Unlike their American cousins, they do not see prostitution as a harmless sex work that is also empowering. They believe that all prostitution is disgusting and degrading. Sadly, they do not go far enough to see that it is also degrading and dehumanizing for the men.

What they get profoundly wrong is the idea that prostitution can be abolished if only it were made legal. What they don’t understand is that besides being a moral abomination, legal prostitution is a magnet—indeed creates a market—for something even more horrific, and that is human trafficking of women, boys and girls.

The U.S. Department of State, in its June 2007 issue of the “Trafficking in Humans Report,” states, “Sex trafficking would not exist without the demand for commercial sex flourishing around the world. The U.S. Government adopted a strong position against prostitution in a December 2002 policy decision, which states that prostitution is inherently harmful and dehumanizing and fuels trafficking in persons.

“Prostitution and related activities—including pimping and patronizing or maintaining brothels—encourage the growth of modern-day slavery by providing a façade behind which traffickers for sexual exploitation operate. Where prostitution is tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery. Few women seek out or choose to be in prostitution, and most are desperate to leave it. A 2003 scientific study in the Journal of Trauma Practice found that 89 percent of women in prostitution want to escape prostitution but had no other options for survival.”

Richard Poulin, Professor of Sociology at the University of Ottawa, in The Legalization of Prostitution and Its Impact on Trafficking in Women and Children writes, “Although there was a belief that legalization would make possible control of the sex industry, the illegal industry is now ‘out of control’. Police in Victoria [Australia] estimate that there are 400 illegal brothels as against 100 legal ones. Trafficking in women and children from other countries has increased significantly. The legalization of prostitution in some parts of Australia has thus resulted in a net growth of the industry. One of the results has been the trafficking in women and children to ‘supply’ legal and illegal brothels. The ‘sex entrepreneurs’ have difficulty recruiting women locally to supply an expanding industry, and women from trafficking are more vulnerable and more profitable.”

The reality of legal prostitution begetting human trafficking is made all too human in the story of Susana Trimarco and her daughter Maria who disappeared from their Argentine street ten years ago at the age of 23. She has not been seen since and her disappearance has turned her mother into a globetrotting advocate for sex slaves.

Trimarco believes, as do many Argentine authorities, that Maria was sold into a sexual slavery. In the ten years since her disappearance her mother has searched ceaselessly for her and in the process has galvanized much of Argentine society and created a movement on what has become an epidemic in their country and around the world. According to the United Nations, human trafficking generates more than $31.6 billion each year. Only the drug trade is more lucrative. Globally 2.5 million people are trafficked each year, half of them children. This can be tied directly to the explosion of legal prostitution around the world in recent years.

Because of Trimarco’s work, human trafficking was finally made a federal crime in Argentina four years ago. Since then 3,000 people have been rescued from such slavery. Trimarco herself has rescued 150 girls including some as young as 12 years old.

Trimarco has been honored by her government and by the U.S. government and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

And what of her daughter? She’s still not found but her captors have been. Quite triumphantly, a criminal case was finally brought against 13 individuals charged with the kidnapping and enslavement of Trimarco’s daughter. But only days ago, the 13 were acquitted even though the court heard 130 witnesses some of whom testified they suffered in brothels along side Trimarco’s daughter. Trimarco believes corruption played a part in the trial since human trafficking has powerful defenders in Argentina and elsewhere.

Trimarco says she will continue to search for her living daughter and if her daughter is dead she wants Maria’s body. No matter what happened to her when she was alive, her mother hungers to honor her child’s body. The followers of Christ cared for His abused body. Just so, this heroic mother demands the body of her child sacrificed to prostitution. One hopes the feminists of Europe come to know this story.

Austin Ruse

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Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. He is the author, most recently, of No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic (Sophia Institute Press, 2021).

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