Nietzche wrote: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. For when you look long
into an abyss, the abyss looks onto you.” Human trafficking is filled with monsters. The
victims are brutalized until they cannot fight back. It’s up to us to listen to
their pleas for help, to show compassion, give assistance and never point the
finger of shame. These victims have lived with monsters. They’ve become
intimate with monsters and they’ll have these memories for the rest of their
In 1996 when I attended the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality for my doctorate in sexology, I
briefly met a young woman from the Ukraine. She spoke a little English, never
gave her name, only that she’d been brought to this country to work.
We met at lunch with three other people, ex-prostitutes who spent their time warning anyone who’d listen about
the dangers of working on the streets. What made this lunch interesting and scary
was what this young Eastern European lady had to say about American women.
“You think you are safe,” she said. “There are rich Russian men . . . what do you say?” She glanced at the
deli behind us. “These men, they choose . . .” She pointed to the counter.
“Like that. How they prefer woman to be.”
I said, “You mean, these men special order a woman?”
“Yes. Tell recruiter. Recruiter takes photos. Men pick from photos. Woman is taken. She goes to him.”
“What if she’s married with kids?”
“No matter, he takes her. She is gone one day and no one can help her.” At that point, she told us how a
recruiter trapped her into becoming a prostitute. “I take job in Berlin,
support my family. This man, he says I owe money for plane ride, for food and
housing, for many papers to enter country and I must pay travel fees. Twelve
thousand dollars. I work two years to pay this off. But they add every day
costs and I cannot repay this, so they take me to Israel and Turkey.”
I searched through my notes from the Institute and found what I’d written about the luncheon. It gave me the
momentum to write a book called Debt
Bondage, about a San Francisco radio personality, special ordered by a
Russian mobster called Black Wolf. His recruiter kidnaps the heroine,
transports her to Turkey and then holds her in an underground bunker until she
is sent to an outpost of brothels in Sarajevo. Black Wolf’s protection
initially saves her from sexual abuse but not from the brutality metered out on
a daily basis by the roofs (guards). I had forgotten about that meeting until I
watched a PBS Frontline special called Sex
Human trafficking and the sex slave industry will continue as long as there are obscene profits to be made,
unlimited reusable and renewable products to be sold (human beings), and
uncaring governments with little or no law enforcement. Societal thinking is
also a problem. In some countries, women are seen as less important than men.
They have less status, make less money, are mostly uneducated and endure
domestic physical and sexual abuse that is often overlooked because “men are
men.” Rape is viewed as a normal consequence of war. A way to hurt the enemy.
Until all citizens are educated, all are valued in the same way, nothing will ever change.
Do not let these traffickers (monsters) continue to profit off our ignorance, our outdated mores and our apathy.
Make a difference, look into organizations and social agencies that help
trafficked victims, education yourself and then education someone else.