Rathana was born to a very poor family in Cambodia.When Rathana was 11 years old, her mother sold herto a woman in a neighboring province who sold ice in a small shop. Rathana worked for this woman and her husband for several months. She was beaten almost every day and the shop owner never gave her much to eat. One day a man came to the shop and bought Rathana from the ice seller. He then took her to a far-away province. When they arrived at his home he showed Rathana a pornographic movie and then forced her to act outthe movie by raping her. The man kept Rathana for more than eight months, raping her sometimes two or three times a day. One day the man got sick and went to a hospital. He brought Rathana with him and raped her in the hospital bathroom. Another patient reported what was happening to the police. Rathana was rescued from this man and sent to live in a shelter for trafficking survivors.
Rathana’s story is a story among thousands upon thousands of women whose job market is sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is described as a modern form of slavery and also the greatest form of criminal violence in the world today. For many, the end of slavery can be linked to Abraham Lincoln’s the Emancipation Proclamation which essentially abolished slavery back in the 19th century. Shortly after this famous document was published, the United States dealt with a period known as Reconstruction which was an attempt to reconcile equal rights to blacks who had been living in slavery for many years. As industrialized and technologically advanced our 21st century is, slavery still exits with the euphemism of sex- trafficking. “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” a documentary revealing the horrors of sex- trafficking in the modern world, highlights sex trafficking in prevalent in parts of Europe, Asia, and even in parts of America such as Las Vegas. Although most people would not associate sex-trafficking as form of slavery, it is worthy to note that sex should never be capitalized as it has been due to the sex- trafficking industry.
In relation to the role of women in sex- trafficking and in close relation to the CSW conference this week, it is noteworthy to consider that throughout human history mankind has adapted new terminology to redefine the dignity of the human person. For instance, Hitler and the Nazi Party came up with a litany of terms to categorize non- Aryans mainly the Jews, of which nearly 6 million were murdered. Back in the late 18th century and into the 19th century , the Three- Fifth Compromise, more notable under the disguise of the Jim Crow laws essentially said a person is a person if they are only 3/5 of a certain race. In essence, mankind has commoditized other humans into a mere number or item. Sex- trafficking follows the same rhetoric in making women’s bodies an item for sale on a market whose biggest consumer is men. Women who like men are created in the image and likeness of God are likened to a simple transaction.
Amidst many of the grave human rights violations which plague the world today- war, famine, child soldiers, sex trafficking, abortion, etc it is necessary to note how far mankind has come away from God’s image of love and the respect and value of each human person. Lastly, how far has the human race fallen away from the prophet Jeremiah’s words “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5
All in all, may we all as children of God, come to see each other as a worthy gifts from God and treat each other in God’s own image and likeness. Also may we take up the call to stop sex- trafficking in our state and country for women deserve better than this.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us, are only tiny matters compared to what lies within is.” – Emerson
May we use the gift that lies within us to defend and uphold the sanctity of life.