Most people live each day eating, drinking, going to work, making plans for every moment, and patiently anticipating that much-needed vacation. They’re never worrying about where they are going to lay their head each night. Yet this way of life is in stark contrast to the lives of sexually exploited women and girls.
Trafficked women and girls can’t think about tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. The only certainty is the abuse and degradation that is guaranteed with every paid rape they endure. Tomorrow is the furthest thing from your mind when you know that you may not even survive through today. In order to survive in “the life” of prostitution you must live from minute to minute, think on your feet, always be alert, knowing that at the whim of your next “trick,” any moment could be the last beating, rape, or torturous assault—the one that finally takes your hopeless life forever.
Many people don’t understand the world of trafficked women because they imagine prostitution is something other than what it really is—the purchase of a woman or girl’s body for sex. Some people move away from reality and tell themselves, “It’s okay because she’s getting paid,” or, “She wouldn’t do it if she didn’t want it, so it can’t be bad.” Many believe it is a free choice, and that perhaps it should even be legalized. After all, prostitution is the world’s oldest profession, right? I say that it is the world’s oldest oppression.
These are all just delusional figments of the imagination used to make ourselves feel better about the heinous injustice of purchasing another human being’s body. The reality is, prostitution is a multi-billion dollar industry. The reality is that in the United States, the average age of entry into prostitution is between twelve and fourteen years old, and in some parts of the world, it can be as young as three to five years old. This is not a choice. The reality is that a man pays money to use her; she is no more to him than a toilet for his relief. This is the experience of an exploited woman.
Many people are deluded into thinking that prostitution is harmful only when it entails physical violence, such as beatings, pushing, and hitting. But this is a lie. You must understand that even if there were not physical violence involved at all, the very act of prostitution is abusive and exploitative. A prostituted woman or girl must have sex with seven to ten men daily (as reported by domestic victims in the U.S. as their daily quota set by their pimp). She must comply with the demands of the buyer, and very rarely has the freedom to decline his requests, regardless of how twisted or sadistic they may be. Every act of prostitution is an inner invasion of her body, mind, and spirit that touches the core of a woman’s soul.
Every day—every second—a prostituted woman or girl becomes less and less of who she was created to be and more and more incomplete. Prostituted women and girls state that there is an emptiness deep within them that they just can’t seem to replenish. Yes, you can begin to heal, but you will never forget the memory of every part of your body being penetrated in some way by one man, then another, and still another, throughout the course of each day. The consequences are devastating, and many women and girls never fully recover from being sexually exploited. The mental, physical, and spiritual scars can last a lifetime.
Prostitution wounds all of our souls by teaching us delusions about who we are. It tells us that women and girls can be bought, sold, or traded at any time. If not bought or sold, they can be raped. They can be beaten and even murdered as long as one “pays” to do so, because women and girls used in prostitution have surrendered their humanity. Being sexually subjugated to men is somehow part of a woman’s core worth and purpose. It teaches us that it’s alright for men to be abusers, so long as they pay. It says that “boys will be boys”—that men are entirely controlled by their sexual temptations, no matter how twisted. That’s just the way it is.
In my own recovery, the answer was spiritual. There is only one way to overcome the wounds of prostitution and the lies it spreads about who we are and what we are for. There is only one path to full recovery and redemption, and only one person who could make me whole and complete again. That person is Jesus.
We need to open our eyes. We need to understand what has been happening to our sisters and daughters for too long. We need to understand that patriarchy has been allowed to flood the world with preconceived ideas about the role of women, our status, who we are, and our worth. It is because of patriarchal beliefs that women throughout the world have been and continue to be hurt in every imaginable way. God did not create men to force women to be subservient to them. He said that woman would be a helper to him, not a servant. A companion, not a slave. Not above him, not below him, but side by side with him.
Until men and women are able to come together and see each other as equal, there will never be a time when women and girls are not sold, abused, and exploited as property.