Somewhere along in our history, society has come to accept that it is okay for people to purchase sexual acts from others. whether it is from people who are “voluntarily” in the industry or from trafficked individuals who have been coerced into the business, it is a crime against all humans.
Individuals in the commercial sex industry are exposed to violence, shame, abuse, medical problems, and humiliation. Most of the time, it is the individuals who have experiences in the commercial sex market who are caught and get into trouble with the law. More often than not, the traffickers or the sex buyers do not face repercussions for their actions or are even pursued by law enforcement. With a charge of prostitution on their records, it is extremely difficult for people to find other employment or safe housing to get away from the experience. The commercial sex industry is a vicious cycle that lures and entraps individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds.
Prostitution is known as the world’s oldest profession. In many movies or television shows, the lives of those involved in the commercial sex industry are glamorized. Women in particular are depicted as sexually free, confident or powerful. These portrayals are often more complicated and untrue. Traffickers actively seek and trap individuals to grow their businesses. Many individuals being controlled by traffickers must meet quotas and see little to no money for themselves. As for being sexually free, it is extremely difficult for individuals in the industry to not experience violence, rape, force, and degradation. There is no law that mandates the use of condoms during interactions in the commercial sex industry – which misses the bigger issue. Even if there was, the power deferential is real and undeniable, as paid access to your sex does not translate into ‘consent.’ Consent involves two equal parties who are not dependent on the other for survival for rent or more.
It is unfortunate that in this day and age, society only cares if people are not willingly selling their bodies to others. In reality, many people in the industry have had experience with trafficking. The average age that a person is introduced to the commercial sex industry is just 12 to 15 years old. If the age of consent in the united states is 16 years old, then it is a huge problem that so many individuals start before it is even legal for them to consent to sexual activity. Many people in the commercial sex industry were, or have been coerced by others before “voluntarily” continuing on in the experience. Others start selling themselves or services for survival or to feed addictions.
As long as the demand is present and the world continues to accept prostitution as a victimless crime, the commercial sex industry will thrive and prosper. People in the commercial sex industry will continue to face shame from the community, discrimination from the justice system, and violence from traffickers and sex buyers. Day after day, people in the sex industry are sexually exploited for the gain of others. in the words of author, Rachel Moran, accepting prostitution is accepting that individuals are “ being raped for a living”.
Student Intern Spring 2016, RIA House, Inc.