Last year for Univ 111, I wrote my unit three paper on human trafficking (specifically the Swedish approach to combatting it). Trafficking is kind of a grotesque fascination of mine, if you will; I’m a huge Law & Order SVU fan and love movies like Taken (of which I’m very happy they’re making a sequel) and Trade. I just came across this article by the author of a new book, A Walk Across the Sun, so I ordered it and will begin reading it soon. Sadly none of what he mentions in the blurb is anything groundbreaking for me, but others might not be as aware. I am still looking forward to reading the book. One interesting statistic is that human trafficking profits are greater than those of ExxonMobil, one of the largest companies in the world.
I’ve personally seen incidents of trafficking all over the world; it’s truly heartbreaking. My first encounter was accidentally walking into a brothel in Switzerland with some friends as we naively thought it was a bar. It took us some time to realize where we were, and once we did we left abruptly as the madame was not very pleasant; it was obvious we were in the wrong place. I found it shocking that in Lucerne, Switzerland a brothel would be operating so openly in the middle of the day. (Disclaimer regarding me trying to find a bar in the middle of the day: it was our high school graduation trip and we were in Europe. When in Rome…) Speaking in generalities, Europe as a whole seems much more tolerant of the sex trade than the United States, but it was still appalling nonetheless. In Tokyo, not only do they openly advertise brothels, but they recruit clients in popular areas, have sales and show pictures of the specific men and women that are available. In cities like Tijuana and Bangkok, there is absolutely no discretion. Sex is for sale everywhere.
I hope this will change, but I don’t have much faith that it will as it doesn’t seem to be a very pressing issue. Sweden’s approach has been to punish those purchasing sex, not those offering sexual services. Judging by most accounts and reports it seems to be a successful strategy.