What would you do if an act of violence were happening right in front of your eyes? Your response to that question is a direct reflection of your character. How you respond in the most treacherous of times speaks volumes about the kind of person you are. Many upstanding citizens would do their best to stop a violent act from occurring if they were to witness it first-hand. However, many government officials are known to turn the other way when they see an act of violence, specifically when that so-called act of violence is coined the term “rape” and involves women as the victims.
Modern slavery has yet to disappear in our world. In many cases today, the slaves are women, and their bodies are trafficked and shared amongst anyone who wishes to use them for personal pleasure. Many women have no say in the matter, and even if they did defiantly speak up, they face dangerous and violent consequences. When Nicholas D. Kristof, a writer for The New York Times and co-author of the book Half the Sky (2009), went to Nepal he was startled by the information that he received from an intelligence officer who was monitoring the Nepal-India border for terrorists, terror supplies or pirated goods. Kristof asked the officer how he responded to women being trafficked across the border to be used for sex slavery, which incidentally happens very often. The officer’s response was, “We don’t worry about them. There’s nothing you can do about them (p. 23).”
But there is something that can be done about the illegal acts of rape and abuse of thousands of women across the globe. In fact, a lot can be done. The sad issue prohibiting the resolution of this problem is that the lives of women are devalued by society, especially by government officials or men who hold the most power. Since many women, particularly the ones belonging to a lower socioeconomic class, are seen as being “less than,” many men in positions of power are turning the other way when it comes to putting an end to sex trafficking. The lives of these women are disregarded and seen as unimportant to the ones who enforce all of the rules and regulations- which are predominantly men. How convenient that the ones deciding the fate of women are the ones who have never walked a mile in their shoes.
In M²: Models and Methodologies for Community Engagement (2014), authors Singh et al. stress that “girls should be put at the forefront, thought about as people, human beings that have flesh and blood like the boys (p. 48).” Simply put, women deserve the same rights as men. Yet women are still treated like objects and used for the male advantage. There has been much debate surrounding exactly how laws surrounding rape and human trafficking should be addressed. One major breakthrough in this sector was the Trafficking Victims Protection Act that was passed by U.S. Congress in 2000. This was important, because members of both political parties collaborated together to try to solve the issue of human trafficking. This was arguably one of the last times that we saw both political parties come together, set their differences aside, and focus on the bigger picture. This act provides some protection to those women who are victims of sex trafficking, but by no means does it put an end to it. Even though there are laws in place that make acts of rape and sexual assault illegal, it still takes the cooperation of police and government officials to enforce these laws.
Laws, policies, and regulations are only the beginning of the long list of things that need to be done to defeat human trafficking. Society needs to rise up and realize that this is still an issue, and it is not going away just because it is illegal. Laws have never stopped corrupt people from bending the rules and risking the lives of others. It is not a matter of the law being in place that will solve the problem, but how that law is enforced by the government. If the end-all goal of federal law enforcement really is “to protect and serve,” then it is time the government actually started protecting and serving all citizens, and this should always include all women.
- Kristof, N. D., & WuDunn, S. (2014). Half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
- Tiwari, R., Lommerse, M. V., & Smith, D. (2016). M2: models and methodologies for community engagement. Singapore: Springer.