In two recent columns in the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has written about the need for the international community, and especially the United States to work to stop sex trafficking. Kristof argues that this issue is the "slavery of our time" due to the fact that millions of children are captive to this system. In his latest article he writes the following:
To have a more immediate impact, we need to reduce the economic incentives for traffickers. Here are my suggestions:
Pick our battles. Look, prostitution will always be around. But progress is possible by targeting the very worst abuses, like the brothels that imprison girls (some boys are also trafficked for sex, but not as many).
Emphasize criminal sanctions. Effective law enforcement may not rescue many individual children (those numbers are tiny), but it deters all brothel owners from forced prostitution and from pimping minors. If brothel owners see that they risk jail for imprisoning and peddling 13-year-olds, they instead employ semivoluntary 17-year-olds who claim that they are 18 (few people in poor countries have good documentation of age). In this world, that's real progress.
Focus on virginity sales. In some areas, like Southeast Asia, the business model of sex trafficking depends on selling virgins for $500 or more apiece. That's where traffickers reap their biggest profits. So let's encourage sting operations that arrest both buyers and sellers of virgins. Buyers are usually wealthy foreigners, often Arabs or ethnic Chinese, and a few heavily publicized arrests would help dry up sales of virgins.
Inspect brothels regularly for prisoners. Frequent inspections make the brothel owners more likely to employ willing prostitutes rather than unwilling ones. During inspections, girls should also undergo mandatory testing for diseases, including H.I.V.
Click here to read this column and others by Kristof.
If anyone knows of good information and/or websites about this topic, please post in the comments section or send me an email with suggestions so that more information can be available to people who visit this blog, as it is one of the most horrific, yet little known issues facing us today.