There is a problem in many parts of the world with human trafficking and a lot of the charities that deal with “human traffic” are Religious and often don’t “get” trafficking. They often see themselves as “saviours” and don’t understand the underlying causes for sex work. Mainly because Human Traffic is near universally understood as Sex Work they often miss out on people who really require help but end up making life more difficult for those who want a different kind of help.
I put it down to prudishness. How can you sell your body for money? You cannot be happy! You must need help!
Let’s understand this. The vast majority of human traffic is for workers. At this point in history there are more slaves than at any other point in human history. The human trafficking “industry” often limbos under the smoke screen of the sex trade. While people are distracted in saving sex workers, they manage to ply their trade freely. The numbers are unknown but human traffic in India is monsterous for workers particularly in rural industry, home staff and foreign worker markets.
So we need the ability to cooperate with different charities. The question is are religious charities willing to trade rigid morals for understanding a viewpoint traditionally considered. A lot of people particularly religious see the issue in black and white terms rather than understanding the social and economic forces for engaging in prostitution and indeed how they vary between person to person.
Not all sex workers are in it for the same reasons and the causes for sex work vary from country to country and person to person. The major driving forces and mechanisms are different.
Let’s get this straight. Sex Traffic is a terrible thing, we should fight it. How we fight it is to alleviate the harmful reasons for going into the sex trade. Voluntary groups need to operate out of the same playbook to be effective. Simply removing sex workers and declaring them to be free doesn’t “help”.
So how do we do this?
Education – Education is the first stage in giving people agency. Educating the sex workers empowers them by making them realise that they too have skills that aren’t sex work.
Medicine – Healthcare, Condoms, Copper Ts. The three pillars of sex work health are regular check ups. Condoms to prevent disease and pregnancy and the Copper T to make sure. All of these come with the education needed.
Pass it on – The best educators for sex workers are other sex workers.
Collectivisation – Sex workers are prone to abuse when alone. A bunch of them are tougher and more capable of protecting each other.
Economic growth in the community – The majority of sex workers are in it for the money. The better the economy the more likely they are to get a non sex-work job.
Equality – A lot of women pick up sex work because they don’t have any other options to work. They may be discriminated against, have no education and be excluded from the work force otherwise. In addition many women often find that this is the only way to be “really” independent.
Opportunity – There are often literally no other options for people doing this. This is either due to social or economic reasons.
How willing religious groups are to accept that the way to help sex workers is not through “saving” them but by listening to what they want and doing that.
The way to help people is not to pull them up but to teach them how to build the social ladders that they need.