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


Austin Ruse is president of C-FAM (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. He is the author of Fake Science: Exposing the Left’s Skewed Statistics, Fuzzy Facts, and Dodgy Data published by Regnery. He is also the author of the new book Little Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ published by Tan Books. The views expressed here are solely his own.

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  • George Citizen

    I think the European Women’s Lobby needs to do some homework. To say that prostitution is a “patriarchal economic subjugation of women” shows a high degree of
    ignorance on the subject. While the people in prostitution are predominately
    women, they by no stretch of the imagination have an exclusive lock. By its very nature prostitution is about exploitation and exploitation knows no gender. Its only concern is profit be it from women or men, girls or boys.

    • Ray Olson

      George–The EWL didn’t ‘say that prostitution is a “patriarchal economic subjugation of women”‘. Mr. Rose alleged that they said that. Since his veracity seems less than trustworthy, in light of what Me writes, perhaps the EWL is not guilty on that charge, as well. In any case, to hell with human trafficking, whether for prostitution or cheap labor.

      • Austin Ruse

        Ray, you are exactly correct. “Patriarchal economic subjugation of women” are my words. Here are their words, “Prostitution is about patriarchy: it is the ultimate way in which men
        control women’s bodies and sexuality, through an exchange of money or an
        abuse of unequal economic relations.”

        Also, if you wonder about my (that’s Ruse not Rose) credibility because Me thinks I got it wrong about decriminalization, here are EWL’s words on that topic, “Towards persons in prostitution: Put an end to any repressive measures
        towards persons in prostitution and the taxation of their incomes…”

        Now perhaps, putting “an end to ANY repressive measure towards persons in prostitution” does not in fact mean decriminalizing trading sex for money but I think any reasonable person would read it that way.

        • Ray Olson

          Thank you, Mr. Ruse. Please accept my apology for misspelling your name. May I ask why you put the phrase “an end to ANY repressive measure towards persons in prostitution” within quotation marks. If they’re not your words, who said them?

          • Austin Ruse

            The quote is from from the European Women’s Lobby..on their website dedicated to abolishing prostitution in Europe…

            • Ray Olson

              Thanks, Mr. Ruse. You’ve convinced me.

              • Austin Ruse

                Mr. Olson, you are a big man….

        • Me

          Ending repressive measures against prostitutes is clearly not the same thing as decriminalization. “Repressive measures” could mean many things — from abusive language by officials to giving prostitutes sentences that are disproportionate to the sentences for procurers. It could mean that sentences include counseling. Bear in mind that the EWL said that Sweden’s approach of only prosecuting the procurers didn’t go far enough in completely eliminating prostitution, although the Swedish method was empirically the most successful in reducing it. I don’t think you read through the EWL documentation very carefully.

      • Augustus

        Ray: I am disappointed that you would be so eager to defend
        the radical feminists just as you are so eager to defend the Gay Lobby. I
        thought you were more politically astute given your former reputation as a
        thoughtful conservative. I am now beginning to wonder why someone who made a living reading would be so uninformed.

        Mr. Ruse agrees that the intention of the EWL is to reduce prostitution. He simply opposes their support of the “Nordic Model,” first adopted in Sweden in 1999, which punishes the buyers but not the sellers of sex. Thus the Huffington Post (UK) reports that the EWL recommended, “criminalising the purchase of sex” while “decriminalising the sale of sex.” The Nordic Model is “a set of laws that penalizes the demand for commercial sex while simultaneously decriminalising individuals in prostitution.” Thus punish the men and protect the women, a policy one might expect feminists would favor since women are always the victims. The BBC confirmed this policy when it reported that “The European Women’s Lobby (EWL), which leads the campaign [against prostitution], wants EU member states to implement six key policies, including the criminalisation of all forms of procuring,” but not the selling, of sex. So contrary to ME’s disingenuous charge, Mr. Ruse was accurate when he pointed out that the EWL thinks that criminalizing the purchase of sex will eliminate prostitution.

        When Mr. Ruse described the EWL’s view of prostitution as the “patriarchal subjugation of women,” you objected to the accuracy of this description. It is quite astonishing that someone who should know the political Left would question its “veracity.” Must he quote from their manifesto in order to convince you that radical feminists identify the boogeyman patriarchy as the source of all the ills of the world? Perhaps it’s just a memory problem. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. So to remind you, here is what the French Socialist Party (PS) website said about the source of prostitution: “The European
        Women’s Lobby and the PS believe that prostitution is about patriarchy
        and based on unequal economic relations.” You may not want to believe what the French Socialists say; after all, who can trust the veracity of socialists? How
        about the EWL manifesto? Is that reliable enough? “Prostitution is about patriarchy: it is the ultimate way in which men control women’s bodies and sexuality, through an exchange of money or an abuse of unequal economic relations.”

        Something else you should know but perhaps have forgotten. People on the Left are just as susceptible to ideological thinking as on the Right. The difference is that because Leftists think they are so much smarter than
        everyone else, they begin to believe their own lies and delusions. Their pride
        prevents them from considering alternative points of view. As a result they are
        far more intolerant than the liberal stereotype suggests. Because they are so
        supremely confident in their own moral superiority, they enthusiastically use
        the state to impose their will on others. Feminists are liars. They lie about
        all sorts of things. The Gay Lobby is no different. For them, the ends justify
        the means. It’s all about power. If you can’t see that, then you haven’t been
        paying attention.

        • Ray Olson

          Dear Augustus–I stand corrected about the EWL, which I have to admit I had not previously heard of. Of course, it’s wrong not to demand criminalization of both sides of the hooking industry, supply as well as demand.

          I’m saddened that you saw my comments in response to Ms. O’Leary as defense of the so-called Gay Lobby (please correct me if there really is something officially so named). I tried hard to argue that my complaint with Ms. O’Leary is that she advocates using not just science but exceedingly bad science, natural and social, to argue about the morality of homosexuality. I believe that the only legitimate way to argue about morals is morally, that is, philosophically and theologically. Banish the data from the argument, I say, and welcome metaphysics.

          • Augustus

            Ray: While I agree with you that a moral/metaphysical argument against homosexual behavior is easier to make than the argument in favor of it, I am reluctant to cede all the social science and hard science ground to the proponents of gay “rights” (if you prefer that description to “gay lobby” which can be identified if you follow the money). If the social science evidence establishes that children are better off with a father and a mother (rather than two parents of the same gender or one parent of either gender) then I think that is worth pointing out. I am not willing to abandon science, especially since Christians are always accused of being indifferent if not hostile to it. You seem to imply that ALL the science favors the gay marriage proponents even though the political Left is just as guilty of manipulating science for their own ends. I would have to be persuaded (with evidence) that ALL the science used by O’Leary is “bad.” While I agree with you that the philosophical argument is solid ground to take a stand, I am not willing to abandon “good” science if it will confirm the philosophical case you clearly favor. This is especially true today when science is given greater weight than traditional moral arguments that necessarily call for sexual restraint.

  • Me

    Apart from the misogynistic swipes at feminism common to many Crisis articles, this article contains some important falsehoods. The European Women’s Lobby in fact does NOT promote the legalization of prostitution. Here is a quote from the EWL website at

    “Legalized prostitution cannot exist alongside true equality for women. The idea that women should be available for men’s sexual access is founded on a structural inequality of gender, class, and race. Moreover, it is a violation of international law that cannot go unchallenged. The failure to challenge legalized prostitution undermines every human rights norm mandating the dignity of the person and equality for all.”

    In reality, the EWL aims to entirely eliminate prostitution in Europe. The EWL supports the recent “Brussels Call” that describes prostitution as a form of violence, exploitation, and a violation of human dignity. It points out that prostitutes have often been subjected to some sort of violence, often sexual violence, and asks that EU member states adopt the following policies:

    • The suppression of repressive measures against prostituted persons ;

    • The criminalisation of all forms of procuring;

    • The development of real alternatives and exit programmes for those in prostitution;

    • The prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act;

    • The implementation of policies of prevention and education, to promote equality and positive sexuality;

    • The development of prevention policies in the countries of origin of prostituted persons.

    ‘Sounds pretty good to me.

    • Austin Ruse

      Decriminalization is the same thing as legalization.

      • Me

        Austin Ruse, the EWL is not talking about decriminalization. “Criminalization of all forms of procuring” and “prohibition of the purchase of a sexual act” can hardly be construed as “decriminalization”. The organization is extremely critical of the legislation of prostitution in the Netherlands. It wishes to treat prostitutes as victims in need of help, but it is also determined to stop them from degrading themselves through the practice of prostitution. Your enthusiasm for denigrating a feminist institution has clouded your accuracy in reporting.

        • Austin Ruse

          As I say in my piece they call for criminalizing the purchase of sex but not the sale by the woman. Offering sex for money is legal. Offering money for sec is illegal.

          • Me

            This is not accurate! They believe that prostitutes should not be subjected to “repressive measures” — not that they should continue unabated.

    • Harry

      Thank you for clarifying – and do us all a favor by continuing to point out obvious mistakes whenever you can.

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