Most Europeans erroneously consider that with the elimination of servitude they are all protected from being forced to do something against their will. That is why they may be shocked to discover that there is a special form of female slavery which can be seen not only in the countries of the East or in Africa, but near their homes in civilized Western Europe. Although sex trafficking is a pressing problem that is to be solved as soon as possible, the governments of European countries do little to protect women from the threat of sexual slavery. In this paper we will uncover main aspects of sex trafficking and reasons of its appearance, provide statistical data to prove that this activity is on the rise and endangers lives of the average female citizens, as well as propose possible solutions to the problem.
Sex trafficking or white slavery is defined in Encyclopedia of prostitution and sex work in the following way:
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…the term that refers to an international traffic of white women and girls, who have been sold or trapped into forced prostitution that usually involves transportation abroad or out of home nation. The traffic is referred to as “the white slave trade”, a term that suggests both a coherent organized system of exchange and systematic representation of the white female body as sexual commodity within an international economy of masculine desire in which race and nation, along with gender, are indices of particular values. (539)
Sex trafficking is conducted before our eyes, and we tend not to realize it. Most frequently, women are lured into a sex trap by recruiters who offer them a job with no qualifications required and a high salary. Females mostly originate from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa; they have some financial problems and are searching for any job in order to survive. The recruiters offer these women positions of waitresses, nannies, maids, dishwashers and models with a monthly salary approximately 2500 dollars (Malarek 10). In most cases, recruiters find women with the help of advertisements on the Internet and in the newspapers, but there are also situations, when particular people from a close circle of women’ friends lure them into a sex trap. In these advertisements, the alleged employer is searching for girls who are pretty, single, young and tall (Malarek 10). He invites them to work as models, secretaries, dancers or gymnasts. The employer also wants the girls to apply personally. In 95 percent of the cases, jobs promised do not exist – these are mere hunting grounds for criminal networks involved in industry of sex and lust (Malarek 10).
Thousands of women and girls are trafficked annually into Western Europe as sex slaves. Most frequently, the victims come from countries of Eastern Europe: Belarus, Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania, and Lithuania. There are also women who were trafficked from China, Thailand, Nigeria and Albania. Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands and France are most frequent countries of destination (Malarek 22-23). The so-called “Balkan Route” is the path of sex trafficking in Europe; it includes such countries as Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Kosovo (Malarek 21).
The average sex slave purchase price is approximately from 2000 euros in Romania to 5000 euros in China and Brazil (Malarek 24). A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that an average single sex slave earns her pimp at least 250,000 euros a year. According to the official data provided, 80 percent of sex slavery victims are female, 50 percent of them are girls under 18 years old. 80 percent of those sold into sex slavery are under 24. In 54 percent of cases, the recruiter is a stranger to the victim; in 46 percent of cases, recruiters know the victims (Malarek 26).
Sex trafficking victims may be forced into different forms of sexual exploitation: prostitution, pornography, stripping, live sex shows. They are facing numerous physical and psychological risks. Among physical ones are the following: drug and alcohol addiction, injuries of different body parts, sexually transmitted diseases, miscarriages, forced abortions, problems with menstrual cycle. Among psychological ones are the following: shame, fear, grief, distrust, hatred towards men, thoughts about suicide (Malarek 32). 68 percent of all women engaged in sex trafficking experience post-traumatic stress. Sex trafficking plays a major role in spreading HIV and venereal diseases (Malarek 33).
The current anti-trafficking system mainly concentrates on legal measures, prosecution, prevention in the countries of origin and prevention in the countries of destination. Is this approach effective enough? People involved in sex trafficking are rarely charged of crime and even more rare are cases of their arrest and imprisonment. However, two years ago, a group of people conducting this illegal business was arrested in Russia. Eight men were arrested in Moscow, six were caught abroad, but twenty others are still enjoying their freedom. These men were luring women to Moscow, creating fake passports for trafficking them through the safe routes to the Western Europe. Apparently, they sent over 40 women to work as prostitutes in Italy, Spain and Greece, receiving for each of them at least 2000 euros (“Sex Trafficking in Europe, Russia Today”). But even in cases when trafficked women are liberated in the Western Europe, criminal justice does not always manage to arrest and prosecute sex criminals.
What else can be done in order to prevent and combat female sex trafficking? First of all, the countries of Western Europe need to raise the overall morality of the society. If this is done, people would report frequently about the occurrences of sex trafficking and sex slavery they had witnessed. If the morality was high, people would less frequently resort to filthy business of sex slavery, and the clients would not allow themselves to pay for sex knowing that a woman is a sex slave. Raising awareness of the European population is another issue to be considered. Educational materials are to be distributed in schools and colleges, the problem of female sex trafficking is to be made clear in the media, and hotlines are to be available for discussion of this problem.
One more solution to the problem may be reduction of sex trafficking financial gains. This idea is also closely connected to the raising of society’s morality levels. If the morality was higher and male clients were scarce, pimps would not prosper from their business and eventually would liberate women. Financial gains may be reduced by interruption into the process of buying a prostitute. If social workers or other appointed people caught men paying pimps for a prostitute and tried to focus their attention on wrongness of their actions, men, covered with shame would escape without paying any money and pimps would not earn anything.
Another point is allowing legal migration for the citizens of Eastern Europe countries. Very often women from this part of the world can’t find a well-paid job in their home country and are forced to go abroad. At this point they face a problem connected with the unwillingness of Western European countries to allow them to cross borders. Here is when Eastern European women resort to help of the strangers who very often turn out to be recruiters in sex industry. If people had more opportunities to apply for visa without strangers’ help they would less frequently fall into sex traps.
And the last thing to be done is the establishment of zero tolerance policy towards people who sell or buy sex. Criminal responsibility for sex trafficking is to be made higher, and the list of activities, which are viewed as unlawful, is to be extended. If people from other countries are involved in a criminal business of sex trafficking, they are to be judged in a country where the crime was committed. In this way they are less likely to avoid imprisonment. Women liberated from sex trade need help in overcoming psychological boundary that prevents them from testifying. If all the female victims testified in the first place, the cases when pimps and sex-recruiters avoided imprisonment would be less frequent. Criminal policy is to prosecute buyers of sex (clients) and sellers of sex (pimps) in the first place, because very often innocent victims of sex trafficking find themselves behind bars, while villains enjoy their freedom. Prostitution as a business is to be banned in all the countries around the world and the laws are to be made stricter and more specific about what is considered to be prostitution.
In conclusion, sex trafficking in Western Europe is an urgent problem to be solved. Women of every country in the world are in danger of being caught into a sex trap and being sold into sex slavery. Therefore, countries of Western Europe are to do everything possible to protect females from this impending threat.
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