Much of human society revolves around the abuse of the helpless — the rape of women and the tortore of animals. Suki gives a vivid and comprehensive review of the system that maintains a conspiracy of silence on this suffering.
Please note that this is Part 1 of a very long article — approx 66 pages — but it is one that is well worth taking the time to complete.
ON A RECENT TOUR OF AFRICA, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, visited Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia's woman president. I could not find, in any news story about the visit, whether they discussed the fact that during the country's civil wars, 3 our of 4 women were raped (this statistic comes from NY Times reporter Nicholas Kristof). That is a huge number: 3 out of 4. All nations are Rape Nations but it would seem that some, like Liberia, are Mega-Rape Nations. It would seem reasonable for these two women to make the rape landscape of Liberia central to any of their talks. What will it bode for the future of the women of Liberia, I wonder, that 3 out of 4 have been raped? What will this do not just to them but to their daughters? What percentage of Liberian men were involved in the rapes? For so many women to be violated, the numbers of male perpetrators must have been considerable. What will the future of a nation be if a large percentage of its men have been implicated in rape?
These are just a few of the questions I would have liked to see addressed. Perhaps the two women did talk about the matter in private: but no news story reported any public discussion. (We do know that Sirleaf has promoted anti-rape campaigns but that the practice is still widespread and that many of the victims are children, including girls as young as 6 months old.)
Hillary's commitment to making women's issues central is under scrutiny by many who think that women are not incidental to history. Women are not a sidebar to history. We are history. It is just that this has never been recognized before.
When she visited the Congo, Clinton did focus on the horrendous rapes there — perhaps as many as 200,000 women attacked — and some of the attacks are incredibly violent — extensive gang rape, inserting hot plastics and sticks into vaginas, literally ripping the women to pieces so that they have fistula — torn vaginal walls through which urine and feces seep. Some have had their vaginas padlocked; others have even been shot between their legs. Extremes of sexual savagery that seem to be the norm in the Congo now. Some women have died of massive infections before they can reach hospitals. Babies have been cut out of women's wombs. It is not a new story: wartime sexual atrocities of this sort have been around for the 5000 years of human history. But they have been ignored as unimportant since the male business of making war takes precedence over even the most egregious and unthinkable suffering inflicted on women.
In this electronic age, women now have access to what is happening to other women all over the world. Thus, a small but growing movement, comprised mostly of Western women, is noting the atrocities, sexual and otherwise, committed on other women, and is trying to do something, finally, to halt the progress of history — which, left to itself, will just flow along in the usual channels of rape and sexual domination of us women.
I'd like to see Hillary make the affairs of women her full-time job — although I know this is not practical. She has so much else to do.
As Hillary was visiting Africa, Bill Clinton was assisting in getting two American journalists out of Korea who were being held in prison there. The news coverage emphasized Clinton's role and what the women were going through. Not emphasized at all was the reason the women may have been arrested: they were investigating the trafficking of North Korean women into China.
If Hillary is really going to help us women, I think she needs to emphasize these aspects of news stories. She needs to make statements about what the women were investigating in North Korea, since AP and all the male-centered news media and publications (Reuters, NY Times, etc.) do not consider this most important of subjects important enough to give much space to. And looking to female newscasters is futile since they have been trained to think and report in the male style — i.e., disregarding female lives and suffering female bodies. Disregarding the purpose of the American reporters on the North Korean border: trafficking.
Yet another recent story also leaves out the suffering female body: in Kabul, some U.S. contractors are behaving like drunk, rough maniacs. The news stories mention the men bringing 'prostitutes/hookers' into the embassy compound and the emphasis is on this as a 'serious breach of security.' No mention that this is a serious breach of the bodies and souls of the prostituted women. And who are they, these women who are dismissed so easily, as just 'hookers' by this sort of news coverage? We know that Chinese girls have been trafficked into Kabul, held in debt bondage, etc. — the whole typical picture of sexual enslavement. Did the contractors bring Chinese trafficked/prostituted girls in to use? Or did they bring in some of the many Afghan girls forced to turn to selling themselves due to war and hunger: the typical landscape of history. War and hunger. Prostituted women raped so they can eat. If it was impoverished Afghan girls or trafficked Chinese girls, why did the reporters not tell us of their lives and of their victimization?
"Animal House in Afghanistan" is the title of Daniel Schulman's Sept. 2009 Mother Jones article on the situation in which he tells us that private American security contractors in Kabul are having 'drunken brawls' and using prostitutes.
Mother Jones touts itself as liberal but I notice that its coverage of the world is often totally masculine-centric. Rarely does the plight of the raped/prostituted body occupy the center of an article. On occasion, MJ carries a piece on the rape and prostitution of the female — but they never make it central, in an ongoing basis, to the concerns of the magazine. From the small space such stories occupy in MJ, I assume that these most horrendous of sexual atrocities visited on us are just marginal for MJ.
Schulman's piece is totally masculine-centric. These victimized girls and their prostituted, exploited bodies receive no attention whatsoever. (But then the prostituted body, in all of its pain, never does. This 'kind of woman' is so marginalized and outcast as to have no existence as a human being, whether you find her in Kabul or Baghdad or Africa or the USA.)
It was hard to tell if Schulman's was the original article and then others picked up the information from him — so diffuse is information on the internet — or if the reporting was simultaneous, from a number of sources. The AP story by Richard Lardner (3 Sept. 2009) was also exclusively from the male point of view: he mentions the contractors bringing in the prostitutes but there is nothing about who the girls were, nothing about the conditions of their sexual servitude or about the treatment of the girls: I mean, after all, would any girl choose to go with these contractors in Kabul who are behaving like drunk, ugly savages. I think stories that mention the prostituted need to go into detail about the lives and treatment of the girls. (And Hillary needs to go to Kabul right away and help those poor creatures escape their sexual bondage and exploitation.)
Reuters also carried a version of the story, as did the Huffington Post, a site started by a woman but which rarely carries stories on the pain and plight of the raped/prostituted body. As with other 'liberal' sites, HP will on occasion touch upon the subject, but the coverage is so small that HP gives one the impression that the rape/prostitution of the female worldwide is simply a marginal issue.
Every once in a while, the better known liberal sites like huffington, commondreams and rense will note the shredded raped bleeding prostituted body — but it is almost as an afterthought to the 'real' news of the world, which is always masculine-centric. And the women writers and journalists who contribute to these sites also write as if they were men — rarely noting those bleeding, sexually degraded beings called prostitutes. The plight of the helpless. Overlooked. Not important. Rarely noted as even existing.
Where did the prostituted women in the Kabul compound come from, I would like to know? How were they treated by these men? (If the men were drunk and rough, probably not well — probably not with any tenderness or consideration.) Are these prostituted girls being held in debt bondage by owners, the most common form of financial sexual slavery in the world? Why did no one even ask these questions about the Kabul prostitutes? Why were they invisible as human beings?
The most tortured beings in this news story — the prostituted: with no existence or humanity of any sort. Hillary came up with the 'zero tolerance' phrase, indicating she is not going to put up with this kind of behavior on the part of contractors.
She might have noted that U.S. contractors have done some pretty horrendous things in the past: some were implicated in sex trafficking in Bosnia; a group of contractors in Iraq beat, raped, and sodomized a Caucasian civilian woman employee, Jamie Leigh Jones. The damage to her breasts was so severe that she had to have surgery to repair them. The latest I heard, Jones has not been able to hold these men accountable for their actions, despite the fact that she has a father in high places and she has fought mightily to bring the men to some kind of accountability. Legal technicalities are protecting the men, as is often the case in sexual situations. The law works to protect the men who assault us. Almost always. Rarely is the law feminine-centric. Male thinking rules this area, as it does all others.
Another important issue: what are the other 70,000 contractors in Afghanistan and the 125,000 still in Iraq doing for sex? Are they also buying starving, prostituted women and girls? Are they making R & R stops in Dubai and Bahrain on there way to and from Iraq and Afghanistan? Dubai and Bahrain are major sex trafficking destinations, so if the men are going there for 'recreation,' they are buying sexually enslaved bodies.
There is, of course, nothing new in this. Not just contractors, but the regular military are major buyers of enslaved bodies. I don't have time to go into the history of military prostitution, or the huge role the U.S. military has played in promoting the trafficking and enslavement of women and girls, from WWII to Korea to Vietnam — and up until now. Despite recognition by the U.S. military that buying prostituted bodies fuels sex trafficking and sexual enslavement of women, U.S. servicemen are still buying sex — in Korea in Germany, in Iraq — and everywhere else we have bases. Slavic girls, trafficked into Korea and Germany, are often the victims. Some of these girls were broken in places called submissions camps and some were subjected to mass rape — continuous mounting by one man after another for hours — perhaps for many days or even weeks, to break their spirits and render them completely docile for the rape that the 'customers' inflict on them. Beatings and other terror tactics also render the girls submissive and unable to resist — so broken are they.
Some U.S. contractors and military men are using trafficked girls who have been broken like this. My suggestion is that Hillary needs to visit all the brothels all over the world where U.S. military men and contractors buy sex. This of course includes the ports where U.S. ships dock and sailors visit local bars and brothels — including those in the USA — places like San Diego, where sailors use trafficked Filipina girls; the men also visit bars, brothels, and strip clubs in nearby Mexico. Bases may abet trafficking. Where do the girls who work the bars and brothels and strip clubs near Fort Bliss in El Paso come from? Are they trafficked/prostituted? Who are the girls who service the big navy facility in Norfolk, Virginia? Why do we never ask these questions? Hillary needs to liberate every trafficked girl being used by our military. A tall order. I know she will never accomplish this but she can make a start by paying attention to this as a problem. Usage of prostituted beings by U.S. servicemen has always been a big cover-up area. I wonder if it's part of the 'don't ask, don't tell' mentality. Or what military men have told me is 'The Pact.' Buy those whores all over the world but you never tell mom, and sis, or the wife or girlfriend back home about it. What happens in Thailand, stays in Thailand.
In addition we need to remedy the narrow, masculine-centric reporting of news. I have some suggestions. Every time Hillary takes a trip, she needs to go to the brothels in the country she is visiting — not just the ones used by the U.S. military but the ones used by large numbers of civilian men in places like India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Japan, Germany, Thailand, Turkey — all countries with very high brothel usage (there are probably others but these are the ones I have heard of). We will call it The Brothel Agenda; and this activity should take precedence on every trip to every nation, as should the reporting of this aspect of her trips by news media worldwide. On every state visit to India, she needs to go into these brothels with their 8- and 10-year-old inmates — go in there with her state body guards and her advisers and with camera crews and show the bleeding, damaged bodies of these poor dead-in-life creatures. What more important thing could she do when she visits India? Any state visit to India requires a 'tour' of these rape prisons called brothels with their child and adult trafficked sex slaves and the drugged babies — kept quiet so they will not interfere with the 'pleasure' of the 'clients.' These visits require extensive interviewing of the women and girls and children held in sexual slavery and extensive conferencing to see how we might get them out, and offer them comfort and therapy and services. I can't think of a more worthwhile way that Hillary could spend her time on a state visit to India.
Relentlessly, she needs to do this, visit the brothels, in every country in the world she goes to, until we have eliminated the sexual savagery that is forced prostitution from the earth.
She also needs to visit the ones in Soho in London where Slavic and Asian girls are being raped 40 times a day. She needs to visit the ones in Greece, where 14-year-old Balkan girls are being raped 100 times a day. Let us bring this atrocity out in the open. Let us film it and show it for what it is. No more hiding of this subject. No more cover-ups.
I'd like to see Clinton turn her attention to the huge number of Slavic girls who have been trafficked all over the world: you find them enslaved in India and Asia and Western Europe. One half of the women of the Ukraine have been prostituted. What will this mean for the future of this country and for the daughters of these women is frightening to think. A whole generation of raped, traumatized women and girls. Any state visit to the Ukraine must surely focus on this central trauma. This trauma of a nation that is a Raped Nation.
I think the Slavic girls are being overlooked since we focus so much on places like Cambodia and India. In Western Europe large numbers of Slavic girls are enslaved in countries like Germany. We need to uncover the dark, brutal sexual underside of what is happening to trafficked girls in those Eros Centres which are so heavily patronized: over one million German men a day buy prostituted bodies, thereby promoting the degradation and enslavement of not just these women, but of all of us. This supposedly civilized country is a Rape Nation.
The plight of the helpless is truly hopeless. We will never stop the tremendous sexual abuse of the female body. Male demand is too overwhelming. However — that said, hopelessness is no reason to stop trying. As I.F. Stone said, the only causes worth fighting for are the hopeless ones. And, of course, saving individual lives is enormously important. No matter how bleak is my outlook, I hold that the saving of an individual life is the ultimate spiritual act that we can perform. I am certain that the dictum 'man must have his fuck' will rule female sexual fate forever on Rape Planet Earth. Never can we overcome the numbers. Millions of men live by the motto, 'man must get his fuck — no matter what the damage to the female body.' The numbers are overwhelming. They cannot be gainsayed. The sheer bare brutal rock-hard reality of 'man must have his fuck' fills me with fear and despair every day. But I still go on — because of the possibility of saving one trafficked girl from the brutal cruelty of 'man must have his fuck.'
Those who can put forth hope with more light and optimism are out there — and I applaud them, since they can seem to put aside the dark sad bitterness that Rape Planet Earth creates in me. Such a one is Nicholas Kristof. Along with Sheryl WuDunn, he has just released a book called Half the Sky. The title comes from a Chinese proverb that says women hold up half the sky. When I first read the phrase, my usual dark pessimism interpreted it as a joke. 'Half the sky?" Does that mean we are entitled to enjoy half the sky? What a sad thought since we are not even allowed to feel safe in half of any nation on the planet. All nations rape us. We have no home on Rape Planet Earth. Not one corner where we can feel safe. Not one place where we are protected from rape. Half the sky? Gimme a break.
Kristof and WuDunn are far more positive in their approach. In the 23 August 2009 New York Times Magazine, in an article called "Changing Lives," we are told that the authors "want to help women in Africa and Asia." The subtitle of the piece is "turning oppression into opportunity worldwide." On the cover of this issue is the following: "in many parts of the world, women are routinely beaten, raped or sold into prostitution."
Kristof and WuDunn see the liberation of women as the Greatest Cause of Our Time. In fact, Kristof even spoke with amateur interviewer Ben Affleck (an actor who is also a humanitarian) in Glamour magazine about this being The Cause.
"The Women's Crusade," Kristof and WuDunn call it in this issue of the
NY Times Magazine, and they hold that "the oppression of women worldwide is the human rights cause of our time. And their liberation could help solve many of the world's problems, from poverty to child mortality to terrorism. A 21st century manifesto" (28-29). Their stirring call to arms echoes some of my ideas on female sexuality, but I have expressed my 'manifesto' in slightly narrower terms: if we liberate the prostituted, we liberate all women. To free her from her sexual prison will require a sweeping restructuring of all of society — and of all of our attitudes toward women. No 'good' girls living in safety and privilege; no 'bad' girls having sex on pieces of cardboard in garbage dumps for a few cents a fuck. No degradation of one kind of woman — as if she belonged to a different species worthy of degradation and her 'clean' sisters deserved tender care and being raised like little princesses. I will have more to say of this later in this article but for now let me return to this 23 Aug. NY Times Magazine and its articles on women since much of this issue of the magazine focuses on our plight.
In excerpts from Half the Sky, we learn of Abbas Be who was sold to a brothel in New Delhi when she was 14 where she was "beaten with a cricket bat, gang-raped and told she would have to cater to customers" (34).
Kristof has been telling the stories of enslaved girls he finds around the world for a number of years and it is partially through these accounts by this compassionate man in his NY Times columns that we know of the plight of girls in Cambodia and India.
I would, however, like to point out to him (and to WuDunn, in this instance) that "cater to customers" is a wildly and wholly inaccurate phrase for what is going on here. These brothelized girls are being raped on a daily basis. So the men are not "customers." They are rapists. My phrase for them is ''customer-rapists." We really do have to start getting accurate with our language. It needs to reflect the reality of prostitution. "Cater" won't do it. Is the girl politely "catering" to the 'rapist's' needs, as if she were serving him a cup of tea? This is what "cater" implies. No she is not doing that. She is being served up to him as a rape-hole, as a toilet, that he can empty himself into.
To terrorize the girls, we are told, they make them watch the murder of a "girl who had fought customers." (There's that 'customer' word again. How can a man who is forcing himself on a fighting imprisoned sex slave be called a "customer"? He is a vile monster rapist — and remember he is also the man next door — the father, brother, cousin, boyfriend you know — The Rapist Next Door among us.) The girl to be punished is stripped, humiliated, beaten, and then stabbed in the stomach till she dies. Abbas Be saw this happen 2 more times while she was in the brothel (I would change the word 'brothel' to 'rape torture house' — again for accuracy). Kristof and WuDunn tell us that Abbas Be was "never paid for her work." Again, the phrasing needs to be radically changed. This is not 'work.' The kind of sex forced on these girls in brothel/rape prison houses is low brutal degrading physically painful and soul destroying. How can this be called 'work'? How can the reality of these girls' lives possibly be expressed by the word "work." I make a practice of always using 'customer-rapist' or 'client-rapist' in my writing, although I would prefer 'monster rapist.' This is not an inaccurate phrase for the men who serially mount the prostituted body. The adolescent Slavic girls in Greece who are being mounted a 100 times a day are being used by monster rapists — just a surely as the Korean Comfort Women raped 30-50 times a day were. Almost the entire Japanese military was Monster Rapists. Any assembly-line sex is being performed by Monster Rapists. The U.S. soldiers who mounted comfort girls imprisoned in Japanese brothels for them were Monster Rapists. These poor girls were being rammed into by 40 different men a day. On R & R in Okinawa during the Vietnam era, U.S. soldiers mounted some prostituted girls 20 to 30 times a day. Slavic girls imprisoned in Turkish brothels are sometimes being mounted as much as 30 times a day.
We know, from what the Korean Comfort Women have told us, that such mounting involves tearing, bleeding, tremendous pain, infected wombs, ruptured ovaries. The female body is not designed to be a hole for continuous ramming. Even one man who is not gentle can hurt us badly. Any man who is part of assembly-line sex is a Monster Rapist.
The Korean Comfort Women tell us they could not walk after being raped 30 to 50 times a day. Could any woman walk after this kind of treatment? The Slavic girls in Greece being used 100 times a day are identical to the Korean Comfort Women. They have the same female bodies. I just wonder why everyone thinks it was only the comfort women who bled when raped this terribly?
I think the biggest thing that has troubled me about all this is the men involved. They are 'ordinary' men — our fathers and brothers and boyfriends and husbands. Particularly in the case of the men I have known over the years — the U.S. or British or Australian soldiers — it hits home. During wartime, did these men get in rape-lines to use prostituted girls? I think that this could be the man beside me, on a train, in a store. No matter what the era, the behavior seems to be the same. Put any man you know, particularly a young one, in a uniform, say back in 1945 Tokyo, during the occupation by the allied forces, and he would have been raping those prostituted girls. Initially, those girls brothelized to be the comfort women for the invaders were being raped 40 times a day. These men were climbing on these girls without mercy and the girls cried and were terrified and some managed to escape and some killed themselves. This is rape-murder by men who are monster rapists. Yet they are just like all the men you know — they are your brothers and sons and husbands. The ordinary man is a Natural Born Rapist. This is the truth I came to, one so painful I cannot live with it. My first boyfriend, Vic, had bought prostituted girls in Korea during the 1950's when he was stationed there. He says the girls were pathetic and many were terrified of the soldiers. But he bought them anyway since that's just what soldiers did.
End of this point: as you can see I think it is enormously important to use language that reflects the reality of what is happening to the bleeding, shredded prostituted body.
Freed by police and sent back home, Abbas is now a bookbinder who is putting her siblings through school. There is a picture of her in the magazine, smiling. I am afraid this PollyAnna picture is terribly misleading. After what she went through, she may be able to smile on the outside, to face the world (all prostituted women smile — it is a surface act, for survival) but inside it is extremely unlikely that she will ever smile again.
My own time in prostitution was not nearly as violent as what Abbas went through but it has affected me permanently. I am controlled by rape. I live on Rape Planet Earth, and the many customer-rapists who used me taught me my place. I am only good for rape. It is the only value I have — I am simply a body to be raped. Even years after leaving prostitution, I am still a prostitute. It is the only thing I will ever be. You can never leave prostitution.
Very few of the men I went with were violent. One was and he haunts me forever. I didn't want to go with him so he threatened to break my arm so bad I would never use it again. I was so terrified I got undressed right away and placated him with my terror and begged him not to hurt me I'd do anything he wanted just don't hurt me. After I was naked, he took out his lighter and threatened to burn my nipples. I cried some more and begged some more and got down on my knees. When he fucked me, it was rough. Then he left some money and went away.
I couldn't function or leave the house. Finally some other men who were my customers managed to get me to open the door. I cried the whole time I told them what happened. This was several weeks after the incident. I had not been able to touch the money. It was where the man left it. I got these other men to take it away. It seemed beyond vile and repulsive to accept money for what that monster had done to me. (To their credit, these other 'customers,' the kinder ones, looked totally disgusted when I told them about how this man had hurt me — and they took my pain and fear seriously.)
As you notice, my grammar went totally haywire in the above section while I was writing about this incident. It is still shaky feeling. I cannot write about this without still becoming very upset, and my language skills go out the door.
Except for an anal rape, this was the only time a man was violent with me when I was a prostitute. Just those two times (the anal rape and what I call in my mind the 'arm' story) were too much for me. I am haunted by them. I am sick to my stomach when I think about them. To this day, due to the anal rape, I hate it when anyone tries to even touch my bottom. I flinch and feel sick when anyone goes near that area during sex.
Even though most of the men I went with were nice to me (some were even kind), almost all of them treated me to some extent as if I were a dirty joke. I have come to the conclusion that even when the nice ones were fucking me, and even when they were being gentle with me, still what was happening to me was rape. Sale of the female body is rape, no matter what the circumstances. I don't deny that the circumstances matter — in fact, they can matter enormously. If I were treated for just one day the way your average trafficked girl is (beaten, degraded, raped multiple times — some adolescent Slavic girls in Greece report being violated 100 times a day by Greek customer-rapists) — if any of this savagery were visited on me for just one day, I would be dead after that one day.
I am convinced that no girl really 'survives' prostitution. The smile is fake. The life is fake since there is no life after prostitution. You never ever recover. (A few really really tough ex-prostitutes actually become mentors for others and set up programs and services — but they are beyond my understanding. Maybe they still suffer inside and just don't show it. Or maybe they have found a transcendent purpose that sustains them.)
There are other questions that arise around Abbas's story. A really huge one — and it is a universal one — why did her parents have all these children they cannot take care of so that one, Abbas, ended up being brutally sold into a brothel? This question could be asked of many people worldwide. Why are you breeding and breeding — it seems to be some kind of rule: you have one child you cannot feed and then you add six more.
Another big question of course is do the people of New Dehli simply walk by the murders taking place in the brothels. The middle-class women of the city must know about the murders. They must also know about the sexual murder of the girls' bodies as well. Do they just walk on by? As do middle-class women in every other city in the world.
In this same issue of the NY Times magazine, there are all these ads about organizations that 'empower' women, that help them take charge of their lives. I am filled with sadness when I read them. There is no empowerment for us women. We were just born to be raped. I know my place on this planet. I am here to be raped.
There is an ad for a group that fights against fistula. It contains the story of a 16- year-old girl in the Congo whose fistula results from childbirth. It is interesting that they call her a 'woman' in the ad. At 16, she is not even near to being one. Her body is no where near ready to have children. I wonder there is no mention of this 'small' fact in the ad. And why, I ask, is there absolutely no mention, let alone emphasis, on birth control in this ad? This child should not be pregnant to begin with! If you have no pregnancy in girls who are mere children, then you will have no fistula resulting from these pregnancies. It's not rocket science, as they say. It is simply a matter of not forcing or selling girls into marriage before they are ready to have sex, let alone babies.
This issue of the magazine contains all sorts of ads about women and girls unified together — all full of sappy soppy happy smiling faces and brimming over with fake optimism and sentimentality — these pictures made me both sad and ill (with hopelessness and despair) given our dire plight around rhe world. The abuse of our bodies and lives is overwhelming. No campaign by Kristof and WuDunn will ever change this in any measurable way.
This is not to say that we should stop trying. It is all we can do and I salute Kristof and WuDunn for their optimistic efforts. In his stories about prostituted girls in the NY Times, Kristof has reported tremendous abuses. He has seen great misery and suffering, yet he still has the strength to go on. Perhaps he does it partly for his own daughter — to create a world in which she can be safe. I hope he never gives up and I hope he never becomes bitter and hard like me.
Of course, I concur with certain ideas for helping women worldwide: like microfinancing. The more affluent women in the world can be funding financially desperate ones in poor nations and can thus save these women and their daughters from lives of prostitution. This could work on a massive scale if all affluent women chipped in. In fact, I wonder that Kristof's writings in the NY Times have not already started a mass revolution. You would think that every privileged Western woman who reads him would take up the call, and that we would all march on the brothels of the world and shut them down. Why are millions of us not doing this — now that we know what is going on — thanks to men like Kristof. I would think that the same stirring call to arms would also arise in places like New Delhi and Seoul and Tokyo — anyplace where privileged women exist and have ignored the plight of their 'sisters.'
I am very much in favor of the 'save an individual' idea, particularly when faced with the seemingly impossibly task of liberating all women on a planet that is designed to oppress, beat, and enslave them.
I am also in favor of the hopeless cause — I have fought for utterly hopeless causes all my life. I shared with you that great quotation from I.F. Stone — it is a quote I wish I had said, a quote I live by — I want to share it again, it is so important; to paraphrase him: the only causes worth fighting for are the hopeless ones. I don't let my complete hopelessness and depression and bitterness and despair prevent me from fighting for my hopeless causes.
To save one person. To help one person. There is every reason to do this, even in the face of utter hopelessness.
Toward the end of this NY Times magazine issue, there is a story under a section called 'Lives.' (In fact, you can even mail stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.) The title is "Lives: Truck-stop Girls" and the subtitle is "Dark Realities off the Highway in Swaziland." It is by M. Catherine Maternowska who is an assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco. She tells of a 16-year-old orphan who is prostituting herself at truck stops in Africa so that she can eat. The girl tells us she wants to be "safe." She wants to be "someplace where I won't have to have sex with men anymore" (54). Maternowska thinks about what she wants — "a safe place to be a girl. How strange. How simple' (54). "I hate having sex," says this pathetic girl. She says the men are "so rough" with her.
My response is that this is a sad commentary on all of us. Why should a young girl be forced to have rough sex with hundreds, perhaps thousands of men, ages before her body is ready for any kind of sex and why should the male be allowed to do this to us? There is such selfish ugliness in the fact that man has to have his fuck no matter what. I think this needs to be pointed out as the root of the problem in every prostitution story. Man must have his fuck. Rape rules the world. Rape rules all of us. This one girl forced into rough sex and rape and misery stands for all women. Do this to her, and you make all of us prostitutes. You give men the license to treat all of us like this.
We have destroyed her sexuality. She wants to go somewhere where she never has to have sex again. She has had taken from her the most precious part of her womanhood, her sexuality, long before she has become a woman. She will never become a woman without her sexuality.
She wants to be 'safe.' This hit home. I was terrified the whole time I was a prostitute. Of a man hurting me, of being arrested, of having no where to go if a man did hurt me since, as a prostitute, I was beyond the protection of the law. The whole system was against me, including 'normal' women who thought I was dirt — so I couldn't go to them for protection either.
I find it amusing in a girm way that her story is told under a section called "Lives" since she has no life.
I wrote a book. It is called The Raped Vagina and in it I tried to pour all the sexual pain in the world, in order to get rid of it. That didn't work, so then I wrote 5 novels, all with the idea of releasing sexual pain. The novels are fantasy works (with fanciful titles like Flower Child of Icebane and Pink Tiger and the Whore Liberation Front) and it helped to soften the sexual pain of the world — translating it into a fantasy realm.
In all of my works, both fiction and non-fiction, I express reality from the point of view of the sexually ravaged woman. The bleeding vagina finally needs to be paid attention to. Thus, when I see new articles in magazines on sex trafficking/prostitution coming out, or new books, or new trends — like Hillary finally placing major emphasis on the raped female body, I respond — from the point of view I know best — that of the raped/prostituted body. I am in a unique position — having been prostituted but now I am also educated with a lot of fancy degrees from fancy universities — so I can write about what happened to me. It needs to be written about. Most prostituted beings in Africa, Asia, South America — and I would imagine in the USA and Australia and Canada as well — never escape. They never get to combine the intellectual advantages of a Ph.D. with the emotional intensity of living in a prostituted body — and therefore being able to write about it. I am on a mission — to write about the world from the point of view of the prostituted body. From the point of view of the raped vagina, the bleeding vagina. So I keep up on what is being written and said so that I can respond from this point of view that is so often ignored.
So, I'll now move to another piece of recent news re the plight of the helpless — Hillary addressing the U.N. about sanctions to protect women from sexual violence in conflict areas — and during post-conflict times. Steven W. Barnes, an assistant dean of public affairs at Princeton, reports her U.N. suggestion in his 8 Oct. 2009 article "Violence against Women Gets Global Attention" (Hearst Newspapers). In her efforts to continue to bring our plight to the attention of the world, Hillary focuses on rape as the culprit. But in conflict and post-conflict areas we also have the must greater form of sexual violence, forced prostitution.
It is odd how prostitution is rarely included in definitions of sexual violence: many women are subjected to this mega-rape of the body during wars and after them, and particularly during times of 'occupation.' No occupying army, even those who might call themselves 'liberators,' refrain from use of the 'spoils of war' — that is the vulnerable female body forced into starvation prostitution. It is simply a given of war that has long been ignored.
'Sanctions' is a great idea. I would, of course, ask who is going to enforce them. Corruption at all levels, militaries that rape and used prostituted bodies, U.N. Peacekeepers who rape and use prostituted bodies — it goes on and on. Who Watches the Watchers? — in that famous phrase. Who will Watch the Protectors? Armies do not protect women. They rape them and prostitute them. War is never beneficial for women. It never liberates us. It rapes us.
I hope that Hillary will also address the increase in sex trafficking in the Middle East as the result of the war in Iraq. There has been a huge sale of Iraqi women in Syria and other countries due to wartime starvation. About 50,000 Iraqi women, girls, and children have been sold for sex just in Syria alone. Others have been trafficked all across the region, including to Dubai, a major sex trafficking destination.
Has the U.S. military made any progress in stopping the sale of women to its troops? Recently it recognized, for the first time in its many decades of exploiting women for U.S. servicemen, that prostitution is exploitation. Has anything been done about the trafficking of Slavic girls into bars and brothels around U.S. bases in Korea? The girls are usually broken, imprisoned, held in debt bondage — all the typical trappings of prostitution/trafficking. Has anything been done to help these girls? Any move to take them out of enslavement and provide them with services and support? These are issues Hillary should make front row center since the U.S. military has been responsible for the massive proliferation of prostitution in all wars (WWII, Korea, Vietnam, now in Iraq). U.S. navies still make 'whore stops' at various ports. Of course, this has been typical of all navies: the time-honored find a bar, get drunk, and buy a whore when you go ashore. Are the women they buy held in debt bondage? How did they get to be whores? At what age did they enter prostitution? If they are 'voluntarily' (a very suspect word since so little of prostitution is truly voluntary) selling themselves, then how can they be helped to better, safer working conditions? Is sex with drunk sailors a safe working environment for any woman?
I think I ask a lot of basic questions that no one else seems to ask. Ones that need answering now since they have been too long ignored. I especially think we need to find out about the lives and working conditions of all the women sold to U.S. servicemen.
I try to keep up with what is being written about the plight of the helpless in all forms, including books. With this in mind, I check the New Books shelf at the local libraries every few weeks. I just picked up one called Sexual Assault: The Victims, the Perpetrators, and the Criminal Justice System, edited by two scholars, both women, Frances P. Reddington and Betsy Wright Kreisel.
No where in this collection of essays do any of the authors mention prostitution as rape. An entire scholarly work, published in 2009, recent — all the authors would have access to the coverage of prostitution/trafficking around the world. They would know by now of those valiant 'survivors,' the Korean Comfort Women — mere girls many of them, prostituted and raped 30 to 50 times a day until they went mad, screaming out there rape pain. You would think the authors in this text would be aware of how prostituted women and girls worldwide are for the most part subjected to gang rape of the body, even mass rape of the body on a daily basis. How even under the most benign and safe of conditions, there is still an element of rape when a girl is prostituted — just the invasion of her body by a man she does not know, without tenderness and love, is rape — even if it only happens once a day on silk sheets at a fancy hotel. You would think these authors would be aware of prostitution scenarios that are far more common than the luxurious stereotype of the 'high-priced call girl,' that Hollywood-fostered icon. You would think they would be aware that girls worldwide are forced into prostitution typically in early adolescent and many work under condition that amount to slavery, with extremes of abuse and daily rape. You would think they would know this. But apparently not. No where in this big scholarly book do I find any mention that prostitution is rape. A whole book on "sexual assault" that leaves out the most egregious form there is. They totally fail to notice the kind of rape that is mega-rape, hyper-rape, beyond rape. I call it prostitution-rape and it is the most horrifying kind since it involves multiple violations of the body.
It would seem that even one rape can destroy a woman. Over and over, one-time victims say they never recovered. Imagine how impossible recovery would be for the 14-year-old Slavic girls trafficked into Greece and used 100 times. (How her body, in its pitiful youth, with its fragile thin vagina, could survive even one day of this is beyond me. Perhaps most of the girls don't make it. Perhaps most of them die after just one day of this. We don't know. We only hear from the very, very few survivors. Since almost no one escapes from prostitution/trafficking, the very few voices we hear are the rare ones who made it.) So why is the plight of this Slavic girl and her ilk not even mentioned in this big, fancy academic book that purports to be about "sexual assault" — yet leaves out the major form of sexual assault: prostitution/rape.
Language is enormously important. I find myself having to create new words to try to express the harsh realties of prostitution. I like the word 'whore' since it has been used as a term of opprobrium (as they say) for so long in order to keep us women in our place. 'Whore' is spit at us as the ultimate insult. To me the whore is the most scorned, insulted, abused, battered, violated creature on the planet. Yet she has made it — somehow. She is still alive. So to be called a 'whore' for me is a point of pride. I would rather use it than 'prostitute' or 'prostituted being' since to appropriate it is to defuse the sheer ugly power it has had over us for centuries.
And, for me, to be called a whore certainly beats being called a 'sex worker.' That supposedly neutral phrase is an abomination when applied to most of the bought and sold women and girls in the world — what they do, the rape they have inflicted on them, does not even vaguely resemble 'work.' It is a cover-up phrase thought up by academics wanting to be cutesy and PC, I think.
Show me a 'sex worker' — someone who sells sex in complete safety, who is respected by her society for her 'profession,' who is never subjected to any kind of violence or humiliation — and I will concede some accuracy to the phrase. But until we change prostitution so that it conforms to the above definition for all women and girls in it, then it cannot be called 'sex work.' As a highly sexual woman, I would welcome a form of prostitution that allowed me to expand the beauty of my sexuality while being paid for it. Not yet on this planet. Rape Planet Earth would have to be radically transformed.
In the area of language, we need to stop making a distinction between the 'rape' a prostituted girl undergoes to break her and the 'rape' she has inflicted on her by the 'clients.' The latter of course is much worse since it never ends. It is funny to hear so many people say that she was broken by beating and rape so she would 'accept' her customers. What the 'customers' do to her everyday is a rape far beyond the initial breaking in.
The attitude among traffickers seems to be take the girl if she is a virgin and break her in rough, with hours or days of rape, until she does not care anymore. By then, she is too submissive and broken to resist or to ever care again. Then the thousands of 'customers' who 'enter' her inflict an even more severe from of rape on her by using a completely broken human being.
This situation is one reason I always call the men who do the buying 'customer- rapists' or 'client-rapists.' I try to make this standard language usage in all I write, along with the term 'prostitution-rape.' It's tough, since I, too, have been indoctrinated with inaccurate words. I find myself using 'work,' as in 'when I worked as a prostitute,' since I cannot find any other way to express it. But I am trying.
And, by the way, that 'demand' side is woefully underreported. The men who do the raping and destroying of these trafficked/prostituted girls are the real problem — in many ways, the root of the problem — and they are almost never mentioned by scholars or social workers or journalists — or anyone! "Who Are the Men in This Horrific Story?" asks UK journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in an Independent article (21 Dec. 2006) of the same name. She is one of he few women journalists I do respect since she knows how exploitative prostitution is and she actually expresses this.
I know that I mention military demand a great deal — and that, overall, civilian demand is much larger in terms of numbers; but I think we need to be aware of both areas. We need to recognize that sex tourists, military men, local men — all of these may be involved in the demand side, depending on the country and circumstances.
We need to recognize that 'ordinary' men from all levels and walks of life do the buying. Whether it's soldiers or soccer fans or businessmen out on a collective binge, with sex included in the 'entertainment' package, or politicians or your guy-next-door, 'demand' stems from all different kinds of men doing the buying.
I started writing this article a couple of months ago because I felt that Hillary's newfound direction needed to be commented on — and in the course of writing it, I seemed to run across other stories in the media that needed responding to. It has been a difficult piece to finish because I have been both writing about and researching this subject for several years now — almost without breaks — and the sheer emotional and mental exhausting of spending all your time reading and thinking about rape is absolutely overwhelming. After I finished the sixth book (The Raped Vagina) I knew that I needed a break, a place to escape from the sheer walls of sexual pain and sexual hell fire surrounding me from reading about such subject matter continuously in order to know what is going on out there. I mean, who can read about an adolescent Slavic girl used 100 times a day by Greek 'customer-rapists'? Who can look at the thin burned-out bodies of young girls, just 15 or 16, so broken and bruised and heavily used by 'customer-rapists' that they are brittle ghosts, never to be alive or human again. It was a jolt for me to find that the noble soldiers of the U.S. military have raped broken prostituted bodies all over the world. These men I would like to see as rescuers are part of the problem.
One must find peace inside, and a place to retreat, and one must relax and escape from the pain of the world in order to go on. So, I have moved slowly in writing this particular article in order to find peace and comfort and safety, a space from which to work without being destroyed inside by all the suffering in the world. Once I finish this article, I will not write another one for quite a while since I feel so wrenched by the sexual pain I must vicariously face when I sit down at the computer.
When I leave the subject and retreat and ignore it, some little peace comes. I am able to relax and not care so deeply about the pain in the world. Not caring is a real blessing.
I am increasingly satisfied that the little I am able to do is important — however small the scale. You must exist in moments of inner satisfaction, immerse yourself in softness and gentleness. You can't deal with the jaggedness of suffering full time.
The comforter must comfort herself. Enjoy every moment of peace and health and safety and sunshine. It may never come again on this violent planet. Since I know my cause is hopeless — we will never be able to control the male — he will always have to have his fuck by force and we women will always be powerless to stop him — since I know this can never be combated, it has given me an odd kind of peace. I just hope, selfishly, that he never forces his fuck on me again — I can't save all the girls in the world having fuck forced on them. So I just have to relax and do what I can.
Is this dreadful sex without tenderness the worst that can happen to us? No, but I put it in a category among other experiences that destroy us. After all, it robs us of our sexuality. A woman is nothing without her sexuality. It makes us cripples, just as surely as those without limbs and eyes and the ability to walk are. We are fortunate if we have whole bodies to live in and face the future with, but inner pain is also important and must be dealt with.
Of course it is a given-'there's always someone worse off than you.' We have all heard this thousands of times. But that does not mean that we have to neglect what troubles us. However grand or trivial, your problems are your problems. You have to address what is sitting in your own backyard, no matter what is happening in Bombay or Bangkok.
I read a lot in order to try to understand prostitution/ trafficking. What I discovered in all this reading is that there may be a few pockets where a few women and girls sell sex safely — but this is rare. The 'profession' involves enormous amounts of exploitation — in all countries — whether we speak of India or Thailand or the USA or Germany or Australia — name a country and it will contain women and girls and children sexually ravaged by prostitution/trafficking. It startled me to discover that prostitution almost everywhere resembles what happened to the Korean Comfort Women. They are the Paradigm Experience. We should listen to them. They have told us much about the destruction of the body and the spirit and the very womanhood of the prostituted. Sadly, we have yet to listen to them.
So, I will now move to two articles on prostitution/trafficking that just appeared in the Nation. The author, Noy Thrupkaew, has some informative things to say but she fails to capture the true horror of prostitution. I think that writers on this subject should be obligated to do this. They should listen to the KCW. "The Crusade Against Sex Trafficking" (5 Oct. 2009) and "Beyond Rescue" (26 Oct. 2009) exhibit the characteristic masculine-centric slant of the Nation, even when the articles are by women writers. (The Nation's token feminist Katha Pollitt is a prime example. As I look over her output for the past 20 years, I do notice a few articles dealing with women, but nothing really about the raped bleeding prostituted vagina that has any force or heart or feeling in it. She fits in well with the masculine agenda of the Nation so it is no wonder she continues to appear in its pages. A prostitute like me would never be allowed in there. I could never have a voice in such masculine pages.)
Overall, Thrupkaew's articles focus on the International Justice Mission (IJM), a religious group that, among other things, has tried to remove girls from brothels in Asia. Both pieces are highly critical of IJM and indicate that their 'mission' is not succeeding. In this respect, the pieces are very informative. The group has been given a lot of money to combat sex trafficking and whatever they are doing does not seem to be working in any kind of substantial way.
(I apologize to Ms. Thrupkaew if I ever misspell her name in the course of this article. It's a toughie for me to spell and I did not want to use Noy, since if that is the first name, as I assume it is, such address would be unpardonably informal. It would be like saying "Virginia" in an article on Virginia Woolf. "Ah, yes, Ginny, I knew her well.")
Thrupkaew certainly seems to have done her research, and I cannot dispute that IJM does not seem to be very effective thus far. What emerges from the articles is that, actually, nothing seems to be working in terms of combating the scale of the problem. And even the 'rescue' of a few victims is proving to be an enormously difficult, if not a practically impossible task. Let me quote a section of one of Thrupkaew's articles. She writes:
"Before I left Cambodia, I met with the secretariat of the sex workers' collective. Three of them had been trafficked — although I didn't ask for details, they provided them, their stories of deception by friends and family.
"At the end of our conversation, I asked if they had any questions. They had only one. 'Sister,' Preung Pany said, 'we tell our stories to so many journalists, so many people like you, but then nothing changes. Still we are raped by the police, still there are young ones in the brothels. There are so many people working on this — the rescuers, the HIV people, people like you — and so much money going into this problem. But why doesn't anything change?'"
I want to address several aspects of this passage. First, I would like to offer one reason why nothing changes. The demand of men who feel entitled to buy sex. Neither of these articles addresses this at all. There is an historically sanctioned rape of the female body, in this 'system' called prostitution, because man must have his sexual satisfaction. This is an enormously important point and is left out of the articles completely. Nothing will ever change since men will always be stronger than we are so they can always force us and we will never live on a planet where we are safe and protected from having sex inflicted on us — as if the male was the only one who mattered — female sexuality is simply irrelevant. The female body is there so man can get his sexual satisfaction. This is the basis of all prostitution.
As long as man must have his sexual satisfaction, no amount of money will solve this problem.
As in this section, throughout the articles, Thrupkaew insists on using the phrase 'sex worker,' a highly inaccurate way of designating those women, girls, and children whose vaginas are used as if they were separate from the rest of them. Selling of the body cannot be called work in any sense of the word. You cannot sell 'sex.' Or buy it. You can, I suppose, sell men the 'right' to rape the female body — or you can 'entitle' them to violate it within this system called prostitution — which is simply the sanctioned commercial rape of the female body. So, 'sex worker' won't do it. Note that in the above passage, Thrupkaew mentions that several of the 'sex workers' had been trafficked. Why Thrupkaew does not ask about their stories is a puzzle, but apparently the women feel it is important to tell them. My point here, however, is that you cannot call a woman a 'sex worker' if she has been trafficked. There can't ever be any of the 'voluntary' aspect implied by the phrase 'sex worker' if a girl was introduced to this trade with any kind of coercion and violence whatsoever.
It is also a misleading phrase since very few of the women involved in prostitution would actually qualify as 'sex workers' — women who control their own fate and are treated with respect and dignity for selling sex (if is were possible to sell such a precious part of one's self).
You can see how I myself struggle with the language used to describe the world of prostitution. I am aware of needing to create a whole new vocabulary which really does express the reality of most women who are bought and sold. It is not a pretty world for the most part. Average age of 'entry' is early adolescence, so little 'choice' is ordinarily involved. What the hell does a mere child know about sex? How could she possibly be called a 'sex worker'?
Thrupkaew also uses the phrase 'commercial sex worker'? I have always wondered what meaning this phrase could possibly have? Is this the "industrial vagina" (to borrow wording from Sheila Jeffreys) intended for heavy 'commerce' in the world of sanctioned rape called prostitution? Is the woman a 'commercial' throughway for mass invasion by the male as he goes merrily along the trafficking highway? In what way is she 'commercial.' Just a bought organ? Just an 'industrial vagina.' What is very odd is that Thrupkaew applies this phrase to trafficked Burmese girls who, according to Human Rights Watch, are treated abysmally in Thai brothels. Is the phrase 'commercial sex worker' meant to abstract all feeling and pain from the miserably beaten and sexually tortured bodies of these Burmese girls? Is the phrase meant to distance us from all reality? I don't know. You can see that I struggle to find a vocabulary commensurate with the enormous sexual torture present in most forms of prostitution. The few women or girls who benefit by prostitution or even work in a benevolent or gentle or dignified environment are extremely rare.
Thrupkaew visits the Can-Do Bar in Chiang Mai, Thailand, which she calls a "venue cooperatively owned by sex workers." Over the bar are the local offices of Empower, a "sex-worker organization," as Thrupkaew phrases it. Now what Thrupkaew leaves out is that the Can-Do bar may not be working all that well as a co-operative due to interference from other bar owners who do not want prostitutes to co-operatively control their own fate. At least, this is what I have read about the Can-Do Bar on the internet. As with 'many' facts on the net, there is no way I can know if this is true. I would have to go there myself.
Opposition from other bar and brothel owners would, of course, be understandable since prostitution is designed for pimps, bar owners, brothel owners, traffickers, and families to make money off of female bodies; and it is darn hard for the female herself to share in any of the profits made off of the rape of her body. A co-op bar or brothel sounds like a great idea to me, but can it actually work in an industry so filled with violence and coercion?
Empower, Thrupkaew tells us, is highly critical of efforts by IJM to free Burmese girls from brothels. Empower makes it sound as if the girls did not need rescuing. What is so disturbing about this is that the Human Rights Watch report on the conditions under which Burmese girls work in Thai brothels directly contradicts this claim. Many of the girls are quite young, 15 or 16, and subjected to beatings, terror tactics, rape by ten or more 'customers' a day until they are sore and bleeding; they cannot insist on condoms use, so many become infected with AIDS. They are even denied the most simple of freedoms, like listening to the radio. They have no control over who uses them and are picked by numbers on their skimpy outfits as they sit on display. Local men and local police are among their 'customer-rapists.' The girls are held in debt bondage and will often, pitifully, take on even more 'customers' — even if they are physically hurting — so as to lessen the length of their time in bondage. (When I read facts like these I wonder why any girl should ever be reduced to a state so low, so pitiful, and so in pain.)
It is an utterly pathetic and dreadful picture of sexual horror — and why Empower would not see girls held under these conditions as in need of rescue is beyond me. Is Human Rights Watch lying to us about what prostitution really is in these brothels? Why should they?
Now, back to IJM. The rescues they staged did not work, apparently for a number of reasons. There was no way to 'rescue' the girls after the rescue. Deportation, detention in shelters, return to the places from which they were trafficked — the picture is a total mess as to any kind of 'civilized' methods for dealing with the prostituted.
(But then, by the way, so is the picture a mess everywhere. In the USA, for example, the trafficked/prostituted girl is not treated like a victim. Prostitutes are arrested and treated like criminals for the ongoing rape of their bodies. It is the same dreadful picture everywhere — except perhaps in Sweden, which I will mention later.)
As Thrupkaew tells us: "In accordance with Thai laws, older, voluntary prostitutes caught in IJM raids were deported to the border, while younger ones, automatically defined as trafficking victims on the basis of their age, were moved to government rehabilitation centers, where they were often required to stay for months or years, waiting to testify in court and be repatriated directly to their families."
What Thrupkaew leaves out of this picture is where the 'older, voluntary prostitutes' may have come from. Since 'entry' age into prostitution is so young, these girls may have been coerced when only in their early teens. Also, the conditions that drove them into prostitution — the poverty, the lack of alternatives — could not render what they do 'voluntary' in any way. Prostitution can only be considered voluntary if it is conducted under humane, safe conditions that involve no violence, no debt bondage, no humiliation — it would seem that the Burmese girls in Thai brothels (and also the Thai girls) live and 'work' under conditions that are far from humane. If you are 'picked' and cannot turn down 'customers,' if you are held in debt bondage, by no stretch of the vocabulary can what you do be considered 'voluntary.' Thrupkaew seems to almost totally leave out the often brutal and degrading conditions under which these girl 'work.'
Thrupkaew makes it sound as if Empower is successful, where IJM has failed. The Empower representative tells Thrupkaew: "The women who get rounded up usually wind up back here and doing sex work again — but this time with more debt from having to make the journey or be retrafficked again… ."
Now this is interesting because it spotlights the debt bondage system the girls work under: they are sold into financial slavery and must 'work off' this imaginary debt and if they do manage to make it back to their families, either through deportation or some other means, they are often retrafficked again. Why, I ask? Did the families sell them in the first place? Were they deceived by traffickers into thinking other kinds of work would be available to them in Thailand, which is often the case with trafficking victims. Even if they know that 'sex' is the work, there is no way they can foresee the consequences of this kind of 'work.' There is no way to prepare yourself, or even to imagine, what being raped all day is like. Violation multiple times a day under the brutal debt bondage conditions these girls experience was simply not a fate they could have understood or foreseen. Human Rights Watch characterizes the Burmese girls held in Thai brothels as usually illiterate, from areas and lives of desperate poverty, and also innocent when trafficked — many very young and still virgins. Broken — and then used by many rapists a day: this will kill any girl. How could she foresee the consequences of this?
Typically girls cannot exit prostitution since they see no life beyond it after the multiple rapes. It kills you in all ways — these multiple rapes. At the center of prostitution is an act so brutal and dreadful no woman, girl, or child can recover from it: violation without tenderness or love. There is also the matter of the dreadful 'shame' you are supposed to live in because you have been such a whore and a slut as to allow yourself to be raped all day — the universal attitude toward the prostituted. With all these strikes against them, how can these girls possibly exit prostitution?
What can IJM do with such ruined beings? It is no wonder they are not successful if arrest, detention, deportation back to places and lives that offer them no healing or hope — if this is what IJM does to those it 'rescues.'
Thrupkaew tells us that IJM was funded to the tune of $22 million dollars in 2008. It would seem for that amount of money that if anything would 'work,' they could find it, just through such monetary resources alone available to bring about practical solutions. It would seem as if they could pretty much rescue every brothelized suffering girl in Thailand (or Cambodia) for that amount of money.
But, as we are discovering, nothing works. No amount of money will stop this terrible sale of our bodies. It seems to reinforce my own pessimism based on my time in prostitution. I saw no life beyond it. I, in fact, have found no life beyond it. I never left prostitution, despite earning a Ph.D. and writing many books. I am still a whore. I will always be one. Once a whore always a whore. The rape goes really deep. There is no recovery. The whole world seems like a rape hell to me as long as even one girl anywhere is suffering in prostitution. So, I feel, deep inside me, that no one ever makes it out of prostitution.
Girls will go back because there is no where else for them to go. There is nothing else they can be after they have been prostituted except a prostitute. Even all the advantages that I have had since I left prostitution in a country that offered me alternatives — even the advantages of a college education cannot heal the girl.
Imagine trying to have a boyfriend after you have been prostituted. Imagine telling him what happened to you. I never could. I can never have a man in my life who will love me and hold me and care about me and treat me tenderly. I can never tell him about my past.
I cannot be around normal women or walk around in the normal world as long as one girl is being raped in prostitution. Her rape negates all normality around me. It makes the normal women around me seem like selfish blind monsters because they do not care about her fate. I can never feel comfortable with normal women.
All of this is a byproduct of my being in a really mild form of prostitution. No beatings, no debt bondage, no pimps, very little violence. But still I was violated by hundreds of men I did not want inside me. Just that act pretty much killed me forever.
Imagine how much more severe is the psychic misery of most of the prostituted girls in the world who do it under conditions infinitely worse than the ones I experienced.
So, I feel that responding to Thrupkaew's articles is helping me understand why we will never be able to rescue girls from prostitution. The first reason, previously mentioned, is that men must have sex, no matter what. Female sexuality is irrelevant; the female body has to suffer violation — because man must have his fuck, no matter what.
Second reason: prostitution so destroys you that there is no life beyond it, no way out of it.
Back to Empower, Thrupkaew's reporting on this organization makes it sound like a cosy proposition for the prostituted. Thrupkaew quotes an Empower staff member, Liz Hilton, as saying "we see what everyone needs and wants." The same person tells T: "Empower had as its dictate 'whatever the women want.' Even so, 'to be honest, sometimes the best interests of the women and what they want fits more closely with brothel owners than with the rescue organizations or police,' says Hilton, meaning that sometimes the women wanted to continue working rather than face deportation or receive alternate vocational training."
This quote is a fascinatingly lopsided and incomplete picture of prostitution in Thailand. It leaves out completely the pressures on the women to remain in prostitution since they do not have alternatives. What kind of 'alternative vocational training' can replace the sort of money the bar-girl prostitutes can make? But the real confusion in this picture for me is that Empower is speaking of the girls who work in brothels: uniformly, in Thailand, these places hold girls in debt bondage and force very harsh and brutal working conditions on them. And little of the money actually comes to them. It goes to pay off this 'imaginary' debt they are in — with most of it being taken by their owners, and perhaps some small amount filtering through to the families who sold the girls.
Now, the bar girls are a different story — sometimes. They do have some freedom as to who they go with and if they are not controlled by pimps, or addicted to drugs or become alcoholics to bear the degradation of sex with drunk partying farangs, these girls can make considerable sums of money. There is huge incentive to stay in prostitution. In fact, in many instances, where girls are not held in debt bondage and where economic alternatives are almost non-existent, prostitution can prove to be the only lucrative job for a girl — sad as this is. (Thus, reaffirming my idea that the dictates of 'man must have his fuck' rule everywhere: the male will always have to have a hole to stick it in; sadly, the impoverished female can count on this. She can always sell her body, no matter what.)
And I certainly would never blame her for selling her body rather than working in an exploitative factory or a sweatshop or in hard agricultural labour. These would kill the body and spirit almost as much as brothel prostitution does. But in the case of the bar girl who can to some extent control what happens to her body and who keeps the money, rather than having men make money off of her, it would be ridiculous to persuade her out of prostitution or to take her out of it against her will. If, as I have read, so many of the bar girls come from really impoverished rural areas, and are either illiterate or semi-literate, what other job can a disadvantaged girl make huge amounts of money at, other than prostitution?
I know I would chose prostitution over factory work or over poverty.
A male friend of mine had a drink with a prostituted girl in a Chiang Mai bar. His first impression, he said, admitting freely to the male attraction to surface, is that here was a squat peasanty girl all dolled up, with heavy make-up, and the overall effect was revolting rather than sexy. She told him her story: her father had beaten her to make her work the bars and pick up farangs. At first she hated it, but now she prefers it to being back home where she is beaten and has to work so hard. My friend noticed that her hands were an inch thick with callouses from the kind of farm labor she had done.
Is this girl typical? If so, she disposes of the idea that the bar girls are far more fortunate than the brothel girls. The bar ones may work under better conditions, but I would ask about their backgrounds. As seems to be the case with large numbers of prostituted girls worldwide, previous abuse is a given — almost a prerequisite for 'sex work.' How any kind of choice can be read into the alternatives offered this poor girl with the calloused hands is beyond me. It would seem that those who study the prostituted spend so much time worrying about 'choice' that they lose track of the sexual cruelty and degradation at the heart of this 'act.' Let's just jettison this 'choice' debate. 'Volitional' (another favorite word of the prostitute studiers) or not, does it matter? Moreover, the girls often work under similar conditions whether they were forced into the field or not. It is the same body being violated, whether you label the girl as 'forced' or 'free.' In the case of the bar girl with the calloused hands, if she was initially beaten in order to make her comply to sex with farangs, then no possible 'choice' can enter into her situation.
Admittedly, there is a great deal of difference between picking up one drunk farang a night and being mounted by ten or twenty Thai men who think you are a punching bag and a dirty fuck hole they can do anything to. Still, the violation by the one drunk farang is also revolting. It just hurts a lot less to be fucked by one rapist than by ten or twenty.
Since girls who leave or escape prostitution usually go back into it (due to all sorts of factors — low self-esteem from constant rape, a belief you are worth nothing now, after being used by so many men), there is the illusion that choice is involved at this stage. Not so. Any initial coercion or violence blanks out all subsequent 'choices.'
Thrupkaew then speaks to Ben Svasti, who is "the executive director of Trafcord, a Thai organization that provides liaison among social workers, police and lawyers on trafficking cases."
Svasti makes the astounding claim, to me, that there are "voluntary sex workers" — without any further clarification. He says that IJM, in its attempts to rescue girls, "would go in and ask, Do you like working here?… The girl says no, and then they'd assume she wanted to be rescued. But you very rarely get a woman who says, I like this kind of work."
Now I think that this admission by Svasti is vastly important — that "rarely" does a woman say she "likes this kind of work." If this is the case, how can it ever be considered voluntary? We are speaking of more than distaste for an unpleasant "job" here. In the case of brothel girls, we are speaking of the devastating destruction of a girl's sexuality and body. Are these the girls that IJM is asking if they "like" their work? What girl would like beatings, sexual violence, humiliation, sex with men she does not know? How can the notion of 'choice' even be entertained under these circumstances? It is a real puzzler why this 'choice' issue is so overwhelmingly important to the 'outsiders': the social workers and NGO's and the non-prostituted. If the girl has to make a 'choice' to fuck or starve, or fuck to feed her family, or fuck or be beaten by her father, there is no 'choice.' In fact, there is no choice involved if the girl does not enjoy the sex. And what girl would enjoy the mass violation by strangers that these brothel girls endure. I just wonder why almost no journalists focus on the crucial point about prostitution: it is sex without tenderness with men you do not know. This is ugly and revolting. You have to become numb to survive. You cannot afford to have feelings. You cannot salvage your sexuality. You have to get rid of it to survive. Therefore, you do not survive, since a woman is nothing without her sexuality.
If it is the bar girls, we have a slightly different scenario — but still with some of the same elements. Sex with strangers, with men who are often drunk and crude and rough, is still required of them. This does great violence to the life and spirit of a girl, even if she does have some freedom as a bar girl and she keeps the money (after those bar fines, of course).
Is there any such thing as 'non-forced' sex with men you do not know who pick you up, paw you, stick themselves in you, without love or tenderness, basically treat you like bought fuck-meat, no matter what the venue. I think that the central act of prostitution — sex with men you do not know — is revolting and often terrifying. This man can hurt you in any way he wants when he has you alone. You are a bought body, a hole for fuck. You are not respected. You are often naked with a man who disgusts you. Your status as prostitute means you are not respected. It puts you in a different dimension from the 'good' girls. So you can be hurt by any man you go with — there is no protection. I was afraid the whole time I was in prostitution because I knew I had no protection from men. I was just a whore so I didn't matter. I was not worth protecting and there was not even a legal system that thought I had any status at all — I was not human, so I was not worth protection under the law.
Is any woman going to like work where she is not regarded as "human"? Stavsti's attitude is astounding to me in light of the background of many Thai prostitutes. They do come, many of them, from impoverished rural backgrounds, or perhaps from situations of previous abuse. Can you 'choose' prostitution under these circumstances? And can you ever choose sex with men you do not know as a desirable "job" if it involves degradation and perhaps violence. Even the highest paid prostitutes in New York say that they are subjected to some violence and humiliation by 'clients.' This may not be anywhere near on the scale a Thai brothel girl experiences — in some venues she may be raped by 'clients' every fifteen minutes. But 'rape' by one customer a night, which might be what a well-paid independent prostitute experiences — is still rape.
My idea that prostitution is always rape seems to enrage many. I hold to this position because I think that the very idea that you can buy and sell the female body — even under safe and gentle circumstances — is still degrading. The very notion of prostitution degrades all women. And few women work under safe and gentle circumstances. If all did, well, then, we would have a very different form of prostitution; and I would not have to write any more of these painful, difficult articles which express my outrage at the form most prostitution does take in the world.
Then Thrupkaew does something that really startled me. She quotes "a high-ranking police officer at the provincial level" in Thailand who tells us that in the case of the Burmese girls, "The 'victims' we found intended to come and work in prostitution."
This is not at all the picture that Human Rights Watch gives of these girls; and even if they did know that they were going to be prostituted, how could they possibly know that the conditions would be so harsh, so rape-filled, so unimaginable? The whole idea that "she knew what she was getting into" seems to underlie this comment by the Thai policemen. (You can never know what you are getting into if your 'job' involves violation of your most intimate part; even the disgust of being naked with men you do not know is a jolt or shock.) And, according to Human Rights Watch, the Thai police were also raping the trafficked Burmese girls, for free, as payoffs. Corrupt police aid and abet trafficking everywhere. It is simply a given. And this supplies yet another reason we will never be able to stop the prostitution-rape of the female body. If you have anti-trafficking campaigns in places like Thailand and Cambodia and Turkey and Eastern Europe where the police are on the side of the traffickers and regard the bodies of the girls as rape playgrounds — well, where can a girl go for protection even if she does manage to escape? Add this to the insanity of arresting the prostitute because she got herself prostituted and you see that even $22 billion probably will not solve this problem. We would have to restructure all police forces, all legal systems — make them feminine-centric. This will never happen.
So, how can Thrupkaew trust the comment of a man who might be one of the rapists of these Burmese girls?
Next, Thrupkaew reports on IJM's failures in Cambodia. The sale of girls as young as 8 or 9 prompted IJM to try to rescue child prostitutes in that country. Thrupkaew reports that, once 'rescued' and in shelters, "a number of [the children who] were addicted to ketamine and injectable drugs… cut deals with police in the safe house in order to procure them." Thrupkaew does not provide vital information about why the girls were addicted. They are kept drugged to render them docile and so they can bear the pain of intercourse which will cause great damage to their small bodies. I wonder why she leaves out this vital information?
(In another place in the articles, Thrupkaew mentions that Kristof tried to rescue some sex slaves by buying them and setting them free and the attempt had "mixed results." What she doesn't tell us is that one of the girls was addicted to drugs — typical of prostituted beings: they are drugged to render them docile but they will also take the drugs to bear the pain of the 'work' they do. Sometimes numbing out is the only way. So, it is no wonder Kristof could not get this girl out. If she needed long-term drug rehab and didn't get it, how could she get out? Also, this girl was prostituted for several years before he rescued her. The other one had only been in a short time, so the horrors had not destroyed her so deeply. Kristof had more success helping this second one.)
Then, we are told that IJM's rescue attempts actually increased the prostituting of children. Thrupkaew consults "researcher Thomas Steinfatt" who tell us that "We were a little surprised at the increase after the raid….But a lot of the girls have a debt contract. If [a girl] winds up in a shelter after a raid, she wants to get out because her family will be pressured to pay back the debt. They won't be able to do that, so the 15-year-old [sister] may get sent. Then the 13-year-old may get sent as well. That's one way the larger number could be accounted for. I argue that the contracts should be null and void, but the girls and women are not going to see it that way."
As usual, this is very incomplete as to presenting the truth about what is involved in prostituting these girls. The researcher makes the 'contract' sound like something benign. In truth, these innocent and quite ignorant girls may have been sold by their families and due to obedience to their parents, feel as if they have to 'honor' the sale and work off this imaginary debt in this pernicious thing called 'debt bondage.' It is financial and sexual slavery we are talking about here, not a 'contract.' We are speaking of these 13- or 15-year-old girls whose bodies are being painfully violated by perhaps a dozen or more men a day. Girls report even being raped 30 or more times a day in these brothels. As with the Korean Comfort Women, who provided invaluable testimony as to the effects of this kind of abuse on the young female body, these girls may be suffering from infections in their wombs, ruptured ovaries, torn tissues, tremendous physical and psychological misery. Many have PID, and this causes extreme pain during intercourse. I could not even imagine intercourse with one man if I had PID, let alone with 30. The pain would be absolutely unendurable. Nothing so mild as a 'contract' is involved here. How could any kind of 'choice' be construed in this situation? If the girl does 'honor' the contract because she is controlled by her family, and brainwashed by a patriarchal system that regards her as a fuckhole, then how is she 'choosing' to do this? The way Steinfatt phrases the 'contract' situation makes it sound as if some real 'choice' is involved here. The girl "wants to" to go back to work off her contract, he says. How could she really "want" to return to a place where she is so mistreated? There is no 'choice' that has any meaning in this.
What are the lives of these brothel girls really like? Most accounts that I have read are grim and any Western female would consider one day of such treatment — beatings, being terrorized, humiliated, having penises shoved in you continuously even though you are in pain — as simply 'unacceptable.' Not that her opinion would matter if she were imprisoned in one of these rape hells. She would be so broken that she would have nothing left to resist with.
Some few of the girls do run away. Some manage to commit suicide. Most, however, cannot escape, and some even submit to the hopelessness and the pain and the despair in the mistaken belief that they are 'helping' their families. None, of course, will survive. This is death in life and they will never have a life.
Thrupkaew captures nothing of this in her own 'research.' And she leaves out the incredibly important factor of 'demand.' Who are the horrifying men who are buying and raping these young girls? So masculine-centric is Thrupkaew that you would not even know a woman is writing this. Some sort of misguided view of male objectivity seems to guide her. Some guise that she is reporting the 'facts' when actually she seems to be leaving the most important 'facts' out. The 'fact' that we have raped bleeding bodies here. Not imaginary 'contracts.'
I have come to the conclusion that only prostituted women or former prostitutes should be allowed to write about prostitution. Only they can understand. Thrupkaew has, sadly, not a clue. I can only assume she has never been prostituted. The prostituted write about this subject in a totally different way. From the inside. Not from the surface, the way Thrupkaew does.
I have a lot of solutions that would work. They are radical. I have been told I am an original thinker, ahead of my time, and that 500 years down the road — should the human race last that long — others will finally understand the wisdom of my solutions.
I would, for example, abolish the family as an institution. Family is often the source of the problem. Families sell their daughters. An acquaintance pointed out to me that not all families sell their daughters. I answered that enough do to make it an unviable institution.
I would also abolish religion since all the major faiths are patriarchal and destroy and twist and pervert female sexuality. In all the major faiths, women are subordinate to men. It is hugely ironical that the religious-based IJM is rescuing girls who are in prostitution partly because of the heavy chains patriarchal religions have place on women.
Thrupkaew's coverage of IJM in Cambodia goes into the corruption and tremendous cruelty in the country's police force. Some of this material is so startling and horrifying that I would like to quote Thrupkaew at some length:
"Cambodian police are notorious for their involvement in trafficking, through extorting protection money from brothel owners, or through assault and rape of sex workers and trafficking victims.
"According to a 2006 USAID-funded study that drew on interviews with 1,000 sex workers and sixty police officers, approximately a third of the freelance sex workers surveyed had been raped by a policeman in the past year; a third had been gang-raped by police. As for sex workers who worked in brothels but also accepted clients outside, 57 percent had been raped by a lone policeman; nearly half had been gang-raped by law enforcement. Fifty percent of freelancers and nearly 75 percent of the brothel group had been beaten by police in the past year."
As if this were not enough to take, Thrupkaew quotes a policeman who routinely beat and raped the prostitutes in the parks and took their money from them. In his own words:
"I thought that sex workers needed extreme sex from men [laughs]. People in my area called sex workers pradap (meaning 'equipment that people can use for doing something,' a public vagina for men)…. About five years ago, I arrested one woman who was walking on the street late at night. I threatened her to give me some money. I needed money for buying beer and cigarettes. That woman told me that she had no money. I beat and forced her to find money for me. She took off her earring and sold it for money to buy wine for me. I raped her on the ground near Wat Phnom. I used a condom and I raped her three times. I beat her when she was crying for my mercy."
I have read in other sources that the park prostitutes are the lowest ones on the rape scale and will fuck outdoors. Also, they are often women too worn out and diseased to work in even the poorest brothels anymore. (Some may have been sold into the brothels when they were very young, only 13 or 14, and now they are reduced to this.) The police are not the only ones who treat the park prostitutes this way. Cambodian college students and businessmen do something called 'bauking.' It is ritualized gang rape for fun. From three to a dozen men will all pick up a park whore and they will all go at her two or three times. She may end up being raped 30 or 40 times a night. She screams and begs and cries for mercy, but they keep going at her. And they pay her a pittance, if anything at all, when they are done with her. It is 'cheap' sex fun and games. The girls often cannot walk after this ordeal or pass out during it (mercifully).
Such are the joys and entitlements of being male. I have read startling statistics about usage and have no way of finding out if they are accurate. If they are, they are truly horrifying. In Cambodia, about 80% of men use prostitute bodies. It is simply what they do after work at night — collective visits to the brothels to have their rape fun. It is the norm. In Thailand, the average male rapes about 30 different prostituted women and girls before he settles down with a 'nice' girl. Usage in the Thai military is almost 100%. This is true of many militaries around the world. (It used to be true of the U.S. military but things may have changed recently due to some new attitudes toward prostitution as exploitation.) In some urban parts of India, 80% of men use prostituted bodies. (Remember, these are stats I have come across a number of times on the internet — but with no way to prove them: stats on the internet tend to get repeated until they sound true. I hope the ones in the above paragraph aren't.)
In Germany, where prostitution is legal and the inmates of the Eros Centres and brothels are largely trafficked girls (many of them Slavic), usage is very high. Over one million German men a day climb on prostituted girls, some of whom have been broken in rape camps. Germany is now a Rape Nation, and it would seem that German men can now stand proudly with the other major rapists on the planet. Of course, all nations are Rape Nations, but Germany has the honor of having made raping trafficked girls legal. I call it the Country of Legal Rape.
Now, through IJM, large amounts of money have reached Cambodia to combat trafficking. So has a substantial sum been given to Somaly Mam, a former child sex slave who now runs a center in Cambodia to help girls. You would think with the money being there, the combined forces of just IJM and Somaly alone would be able to eradicate sex trafficking, child prostitution, bauking, etc. from the country. In that poor country, even just a million could probably give all the sex slaves in Cambodia a new life.
So what is the problem? Why is all this money not working to eliminate prostitution/trafficking? Poor Somaly even had her own daughter kidnapped and raped in order to try to deter her. Why could she not hire 24-hour guards to protect her and her daughter and all the girls she has rescued? Why, also, I wonder, does not every woman in the world rise up in outrage that Somaly's daughter was hurt so, because this courageous woman is trying to help the helpless?
All the aid money and grant money and humanitarian funding out there — it's considerable — and still nothing can make a dent in the enslavement of our bodies? Why? Is the answer as simple as I believe: man must have his fuck and nothing will stop this biological urge? As I said, even if IJM is funded for $22 million, it will not avail. Even $22 billion cannot stop man from getting his fuck.
Thrupkaew's mentions the "highly vocal sex-worker organizations" in Cambodia and Thailand. Who are these, I would like to know — in the sense of effectiveness. If they are so vocal, why is there still bauking in Cambodia, why is there gang rape of 'sex workers' there, why do brothel girls in Thailand work under conditions that amount to sexual slavery? Why is their impact not tremendous if they are so 'vocal'? You would think that their voices would be heard round the world. Why have they not eliminated brothels where others make money off of their bodies, if they are so 'vocal'? Why have they not gotten rid of pimps and bar fines — and debt bondage 'contracts' for 13-year-olds? Why are all prostitutes in Thailand and Cambodia not free and safe and treated with dignity and respect? Pretty much, the prostitute worldwide (whether it be Cambodia or the USA) is treated like a public convenience and a sex toilet. If these 'vocal' girls are really that vocal, surely they are broadcasting their cause over all airwaves, and surely, all Cambodian and Thai people now know about the harshness of sexual slavery. So why has sexual slavery not been eliminated? Why have not all the brothels been wiped out? Why do we not now have completely happy, contented, safe 'sex workers' in both these countries who are treated with respect and dignity for what they do for a living? No pimps, no brothels, no debt bondage, no sex slaves, no trafficked girls, no child prostitutes. It seems that groups of 'vocal sex workers' ought to be able to bring about sweeping changes in the current highly exploitative system of prostitution. What is holding them back?
Thrupkaew's next moves to IJM"s work in the Philippines. There a huge $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation supports Project Lantern, which is working against trafficking and is allied with IJM. With that amount of money, it would seem every single prostituted being in the Philippines could be rescued.
It seems $5 million would be enough to set up numerous shelters with long-term therapy and care. But, of course, you would have to eventually release the girls right back into the patriarchal system that ruined them — the system that says man must have his fuck, that girls must be sold into sexual slavery so man can get his fuck — and it is a system that tell us girls are worth less than men and that girls are 'bad' if they fuck outside of marriage and that girls are 'sluts' if they express their beautiful sexuality in any kind of free way. There can be no female sexuality under these conditions. The patriarchal world takes our beautiful sexuality and makes it sordid. This world sells us and kills us. Men do cruel things to our bodies — unimaginably cruel things — like raping us all day for money.
Man must have his fuck. This dictate rules the world. It will take more than $5 million to combat this. Even $5 billion won't do it. No amount of money will change the basic principle of the world: man must have his fuck. Perhaps I need to add a corollary principle to this: 'female sexuality does not matter.'
As in Cambodia and Thailand, the police in the Philippines have to get their fuck. Thrupkaew's reports that "In 2006, before the advent of Project Lantern, the Cebu City government passed an ordinance that police were not allowed to have sexual intercourse with suspected trafficking victims when performing stings…. One police officer was caught on CCTV during a raid. Yes, having sex with the trafficking victim during the sting….Despite the ordinance, another policeman confirmed that law enforcement agents still insisted on the performance of sexual services when conducting anti-trafficking raids."
That one must pass an ordinance against this sort of behavior is truly amazing! It shows the depth of the 'man must have his fuck' problem. You can't stop those penises from rape-fucking no matter what: even if the man is in the middle of a raid to get girls who are raped multiple times out of their brothel prisons, still man has to get his fuck. The penis has to be pumping into her — gotta get that fuck, no matter how injured she is. My response: "Utterly fuckin' friggin' amazing," as they say nowadays. Would any sane species with even an ounce of compassion actually have to pass an ordinance that prevents a man from raping the girl he is trying to rescue from rape?! The human male is indeed a study in sexual sadism.
Thrupkaew interviews a number of prostitutes at Bidlisiw, an organization in the Philippines that helps the prostituted. Her portraits of the girls are unflattering, to say the least: "Immensely pregnant, Grace has huge sloe eyes and a downturned mouth — she is snacking on a stick of grilled meat and slurping from a glass Pepsi bottle."
The girls are presented as coarse and cruel toward each other, accusing each other of starting to whore at age 12. Shame surfaces in the conversations, and contradictions. "As we continue talking, however, some of the stories begin to unravel," writes Thrupkaew.
What is being shown here is that prostitutes simply cannot be interviewed. The damage from rape is too deep to be spoken of. So they cover it up with toughness and crudeness. The shame imposed by society is overwhelming. How can one tell the 'truth' under these circumstances? You are basically a piece of whore dirt and a public toilet, in the eyes of the world and of the 'clients' who rape you. So what kind of 'truth' could possibly emerge under these circumstances? As Emma Thompson, who works against sex trafficking in London, tells us, "we are dealing with the least attractive people" when we try to rescue the trafficked.
Thrupkaew's portrait of these prostituted girls at Bidlisiw certainly reinforces this. They are ugly, coarse, and hard. What Thrupkaew seems to leave out is that this is what prostitution turns a girl into. They didn't just come this way. They weren't born coarse and crude.
They joke about the trips to the health clinic (as if any kind of health were possible for the prostituted body). "One of the girls says, 'Take a good bath before, because otherwise the nurse will get really mad and stick a ladle in you instead of a speculum.' The group screeches in laughter."
I wonder if this is a response to ill-treatment by the female nurses? Do the nurses make the girls feel like dirt because they are prostitutes? In some Thai health clinics, prostituted girls are handled roughly because it is assumed they are worthless, and nurses will even perform painful procedures without anesthetic because they feel the girls are filthy animals who deserve what they get. Such is the cruelty of the privileged female: blind and callous and as cruel as the males who rape the girls.
If the world treats these girls as if they are dirty ugly vulgar coarse whores, it is no wonder they act this way. And after you have been treated this way, you know you are never worth anything. You are a whore and all you are good for is to sell your body.
You are filthy. A bath will not help. Do these girls not bathe for the same reason I didn't when I whored? I just assumed I was so filthy from rape there was no reason to try to wash it away.
Thrupkaew calls the men who buy the girls 'customers.' This word puts the purchase, in my mind, on the level of buying an order of fries or a newspaper. Not paying to rape a body.
As she interviews the girls, Thrupkaew executes the time-honored 'show not tell' objectivity of masculine-based journalism — the kind that constantly lies to us, the kind that stays on the surface and has no accuracy since it dose not reveal the pain beneath. It is not her fault. It is the kind of journalism she is surrounded by. It is the kind taught to us in schools.
I prefer the kind I do — revealing the world from the point of view of the raped, bleeding vagina. This is 'feminine.' It shows I am a 'feminist.' It shows I do not write like a man, or indulge in the obscurations and cover-ups, however unintentional, of 'objectivity' — that male form of thinking. "Just the facts, m'am."
(I sometimes feel as if I am the only authentic 'feminist' on the planet.)
I have no intention of being 'objective' when I write. I also know as a prostituted being that I cannot be interviewed. Since prostitutes must lie to themselves to make it, how can they tell the truth to anyone? They don't know it.
I think my approach is necessary given the subject we are dealing with. I was recently with a group of young people, ages late teens to early twenties, and we were discussing a news article which reported the way Slavic girls trafficked into Turkey are sometimes forced to have sex 30 times a day. The young men in the group were doing the typical joking around about how 'tough' she must be to 'take on' all these guys and one young man even joked about getting on the next plane to Turkey since he needed some sex. It was all quite shallow and typical and stupid — young men who have not a clue as to what it means for a girl to be prostituted. No connection made between this girl and their sisters, or the other girls around them.
Most of the girls were similarly uninformed, although they did not make jokes. They did not seem to have the faintest idea what 30 men a day will do to the female body. So absorbed were they in misconceptions about prostitutions that the majority of these girls just assumed it was a job the girl was doing and she would go home at night and have dinner with her family and everything would be okay and she would retire with lots of money. All of these young people were college students from different parts of the USA. The overall attitude was one of complete ignorance as to what prostitution was all about. Before this conversation, none had even had the faintest idea that Slavic girls were trafficked anywhere. There was some vague idea that Bangkok was city full of whores, but that seemed to be the extent of their knowledge about prostitution.
When I described the physical effects of intercourse with such a large number of men, the girls were really surprised. The men continued to make dirty jokes.
From older men and women, one typical attitude I pick up on is that there will always be whores and johns. Hookers will do what hookers do, and men will do what they do when they are around hookers.
Shallow, uninformed, and without a clue.
Given this, I feel as if a whole lot of explanation, background, fury, emotion, and outrage need to accompany 'just the facts, ma'm.' Journalists need to be informing the public a lot more than they do.
I base what I write on prostitution on the extensive research I had to do over the last few years to write The Raped Vagina. I will admit that reading cannot give you the full picture — you need to see for yourself the prostituted all over the world. Not necessarily talk to them — since prostitutes can never really be interviewed. So many lies will emerge as they try to cover their pain that you will end up more confused than ever. But so many of the people that I read come to the same conclusions about prostitution — it is highly exploitative and the girl rarely benefits: she is sold, used, harmed in horrendous ways — that I came to trust my overall impression about the exploitative nature of this institution. Most of what I have read presents prostitution as grim and coercive — with only a few exceptions. I also base what I say on having sold myself. It was a devastating experience. I am not sure of very much in this world, but I am sure that use of the prostituted body is a form of rape: based on what I went through with 'customers.'
A handful of other ex-prostitutes have written me to say that what I say is accurate. So, this is a third source that I base my writing on. Even if only one wrote, that would be enough. We are too caught up in numbers. How many girls go into prostitution in their early teens, how many in their late teens, how many are forced to be in this brothel, how many are here because they 'want' to be? I think that even one girl forced into prostitution against her will makes all 'free' forms of prostitution impossible — if such free forms do exist. You can't have some street whore in Chicago having her head bashed against the side of a car, and have another whore in a fancy hotel room protected from this. The 'client' who is bashing the street whore might buy the whore in the hotel room next. He also might go out and 'bash' a 'good' girl now that he's practiced on the 'bad' girl. It carries over. If one girl is hurt, we all are. Rape one woman, and you rape us all.
Thrupkaew's articles end with a section where she meets a young Filipina street girl. "Our final stop is the town square, where many of the city's underage prostitutes are waiting for customers." There she talks to M — now 16, M started whoring when she was 15 to support her 6 younger siblings. Thrupkaew sees her as sacrificing herself to put her younger brother through school.
What is left out is that the prostitute is typically so scorned that when her brother grows up he will probably disown her as a worn-out whore and a disgrace to his 'honor.' Should M make it that long. Her life on the streets will be what life on the streets is for any public vagina — brutal, crude, violent, and humiliating. Maybe even fatal. This Thrupkaew also leaves out.
Thrupkaew says that M is "making a grievous choice no child could consent to under international law." That 'choice' concept again. As if any girl or woman could actually consent to such a life. Out of ignorance and deprivation, of course M will do this kind of work. And maybe we outsiders will see her as "struggling to find meaning in her own life, and sacrificing herself to become a rescuer in her own right" — to use the words Thrupkaew closes the second article with.
This end just doesn't ring true. We don't know that M has done much struggling with finding meaning in life or that she consciously sees herself as some grand and noble rescuer of her little brothers and sisters. In my experience, whores are not thoughtful. They can't afford to be. What you do for a living is so horrendous that if you thought about it, it would kill you. Again, I am going to my own time in prostitution for this. I didn't think. That would have been fatal to survival. I certainly didn't have any hope or have any dreams. That would have been even more fatal.
I couldn't be interviewed. If you wonder why whores are, as the say, 'notoriously elusive and hard to interview,' it is because you can't really talk about what it is like to be raped all day. The words just don't come. I would have been highly resentful and 'elusive' if any normal woman tired to interview me when I was in prostitution. How dare this normal woman even come near me? How dare she try to talk to me, in all her privilege and condescension? To this day, I detest being around normal women. They exist in a separate dimension I cannot enter — and do not want to enter. I have no desire to be like a normal woman. I would rather be what I am — a whore. It is the only authentic thing to be on a planet where so many women are forced to whore and the normal women have not a clue as to what this means.
I could not have been 'rescued' when I was a prostitute. I would have spat at any person who tried to 'rescue' me. How dare you 'condescend,' from your normal realm, to enter my whore realm, and try to 'rescue' me?
So, you see, the worlds are too far apart for there to be any intersection. Non-whore women cannot enter the whore realm. If they do, they too will be destroyed. Then someone will have to come 'rescue' them — and it simply cannot be done. No 'rescue' is possible.
You are not my 'sisters,' any of you normal women.
If normal women had a clue, then no forced prostitution would exist. All the normal women, millions of them, would march on all the brothels and liberate all the women and girls. Since I don't see this happening, I conclude that normal women are blind to the horrors of this prostitution world. After all, the news stories are there — the coverage is there, despite the patriarchal dominance of journalism, enough prostituted voices are out there. We know. We know about the enslavement of the Slavic girls. We know about the sexual torture and murders in the New Delhi brothels. It is now spread far and wide — this kind of information, due to the internet. Still, the normal women do not care and do not understand. So, I assume they cannot be educated. As I said, they have not a clue.
At one time in my life I was around a lot of academic women: sociologists, psychologists, women's studies types, literary types — all writing scholarly papers and poems and thinking that getting published in some kind of esoteric journal was the height of achievement. If ever a prostituted being did enter their consciousness or conversation, she seemed invisible to them. No perception or understanding or even interest as to what the prostituted went through. I mistakenly tried to tell a few of them once what it was like. They seemed stunned when I described the physical pain caused by overuse of the female body. Not a clue. Didn't they even suspect that a dozen rapes a day might hurt!? After that, I kept my mouth shut. I realized that you cannot force onto a blind and limited consciousness the knowledge that a 14-year-old being raped a 100 times a day (as happens to some of the young Slavic sex slaves in Greece) is being subjected to unimaginable physical and psychic damage. (Any female would be beyond survival after 100 rapes a day, so it's hard to imagine a tender body, only 14, with thin vaginal tissue not yet ready for sex even making it though one day of this without bleeding to death.) The privileged, educated, professional academic types don't want to hear this. If they did, thousands of them would descend on Greece, and get that girl out of there.
The only ones who do have a clue are other former prostitutes. They are the only ones who seem to realize the truth about 'choice': none is possible for any woman in this, our patriarchal world.
Just how patriarchal is it? Any assembly-line sex should indicate the extent of the problem. Those hundred Greek men — all those upstanding fathers and husbands and brothers and sons — are fucking a dead body. Dead meat. Such an assault — rape by a 100 men — renders a girl near comatose, perhaps even unconscious, if she is lucky. Surely the men must see that she is either in dreadful pain, or, if beyond pain due to numbness, no longer responding. Do they climb on anyway? Such is the sexual sadism of the male, such is his need to get his fuck, that you will never be able to defeat the patriarchy. Rape will always rule all of us women.
I have answered the big question: why should any woman or girl be reduced to this? I have answered the question in this way: because men just don't care about our pain when they have to get their fuck. Drumming and insistent I know is this refrain, but I want to impress the phrase on you: man must have his fuck. I repeat many things in this article to make them insistent refrains. I want you to be as haunted by my words as I am haunted by the sexual pain that makes them necessary.
I think my central theory is sound. Otherwise, how do you explain comfort women so damaged they cannot walk after being subjected to mass fuck? I am haunted by many stories. Maybe the one that troubles me most is that of the Okinawan prostituted girl used 20 to 30 times a night by GI's on R & R from Vietnam during that war. She says the only times she didn't work were when she was sick with venereal diseases or pregnant and getting an abortion. She survived 7 years of this — nightly rape by all these young men who were our brothers and sons and husbands and fathers. If you count it up, she was probably raped by around 25,000 different men during that time, maybe more. By men who are just like all other men. Ordinary men. It startles me to know that if I take any male of my acquaintance and put him back then, with that brothelized girl, he would have been one of the sexual murderers of her body (and life and spirit). It's what men do — since they have to have their fuck. Men are Natural Born Rapists. We know who the 'men in this horrific tale' are. They are the men we live with and talk to everyday. It's just that no one wants to hear this.
I suspect that men are proud of their participation in assembly-line sex on a near dead body. After all, it is the ultimate act of domination — to render her comatose with your weapon. In fact, it puzzles me that men would cover up this activity, as they have for so long. Those millions of Japanese soldiers who rendered those comfort girls insensible with rape-fuck for some reason did not go home and brag about it to their wives and girlfriends. The GI's who lined up in Italy to get on the starving whores in that country after WWII for some reason did not go back and brag about it at the Sunday church supper. Why not, I wonder? Men must be proud of the way they use rape to keep us women in line. You know that we will be eternally subservient as long as you use this weapon against us.
I began this article with Hillary's new direction: making women's concerns central to history. I'd like to see her take on the military of her own country and the role they have played in promoting sex trafficking and prostitution. Until she does that, the USA is hypocritically playing the good guy. It's funny how this country thinks it can rate other countries according to sex trafficking offenses when the USA is also part of the problem.
The U.S.'s five-year war in Iraq has created a huge refugee flow to nearby Syria, where 50,000 Iraqi women, girls, and children are engaged in starvation-prostitution. In fact, there has been a marked increase in sex trafficking all over the Middle East due to the war. War never helps women. Instead, it makes them vulnerable to prostitution.
Why have we not heard a peep out of Hillary about all of this?
The number of troops still in the Middle East is huge. A 21 Oct. 2009 USA Today cover story, "Marking Time in Iraq," by Aamer Madhani, tells us that 117,000 U.S. troops are still there. (Is this counting the contractors? It does not seem so, from the context of the article. There are still over 100,000 of them there.)
A 23 Oct. 2009 story, "NATO Considering Beefing up Afghan War Support," by AP writer Lara Jakes gives the following stat: "An estimated 104,000 U.S. and NATO troops will be in Afghanistan by the end of the year — two-thirds of which are American." The last stat I have is that there are about 50,000 forces there now, the majority American but with contingents from Germany and Holland and other allied countries. This war has been going on for 8 years. The 5 year Iraqi was has created at least 50,000 prostituted women — probably more.
How many Afghan women have been forced into starvation-prostitution? Are the occupying soldiers using them? If so, why is their no newspaper coverage of the plight of these women?
About 250,000 U.S. troops and contractors currently in the Middle East. Do the men take R & R in sex trafficking destinations like Dubai and Bahrain? What are all these men doing for sex? It has never been possible to keep men overseas without the 'reward' of prostituted bodies. "Cheap gook pussy," it was called all over Asia.
Iraqi women have been turned into the Whores of the Middle East. Are the occupying troops using them? Occupying forces have always used prostituted women. Is this the big exception?
What can the women soldiers stationed there tell us about the prostituted Iraqi and Afghan women? There are women Marines in Afghanistan. What have they seen of the starvation-prostitution? Are they aware of the trafficking of Chinese girls into brothels in Kabul? Have women from still other countries been trafficked in for sexual use?
What can the American women sailors tell us about the behavior of men when the ships dock around the world? (I hope something. It has been my experience that military women, along with military wives and daughters, don't give a damn about prostituted/trafficked girls. Not a clue do they have about the nature and the extent of the exploitation all around them. They don't seem to want to know.) Bar and brothel visits, getting drunk, buying a body for sex: in the past this has been typical behavior of U.S. sailors (and those from all other nations as well, by the way). It's called "letting off steam." Has this completely stopped? Is the new military policy which equates prostitution with the degradation and exploitation of women now in full effect and has it stopped the buying of prostituted bodies completely by U.S. military personnel? If so, have we now shifted toward the rescue of these prostituted girls, as we should — given our heavy role in prostituting women and girls for military use for so many decades.
I think Hillary should play a major role in transforming our military into rescuers of prostituted/trafficked girls — with after-care, therapy, social services, follow up — the whole picture. Given how instrumental we have been as the rapists and exploiters of these girls for so long, it only fair that we now be the helpers and rescuers. Divert some of those billions from war-making to whore-rescuing. Within the U.S. as well. Help out the girls being exploited near bases or in cities where the navy resides. Places like San Diego and Norfolk. Near big bases like Fort Bliss.
Internationally, an important step would be for journalists to extensively cover the prostitution situation in the Middle East due to the effect of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the moment, coverage is absolutely piddling. Practically non-existent. A token story on CNN. A few stories about the Syrian situation. A sentence in the NY Times about "whorehouses in Basra." Nothing about the inmates of these places. Who are they? How did they get there? How many men use them a day? Are they being given diseases? Who are these men who are using them? Can we get the women out of there?
"Held by the Taliban," David Rohde's NY Times (19 Oct. 2009) account of his time being help captive in Afghanistan, contains one sentence (fuzzy and indecisive as it is) about possible sexual exploitation in that country. "American and NATO soldiers, they [the Taliban] believed, were making Afghan women work as prostitutes on military bases."
Are they, is the important question here. Lara Logan of CBS is now reporting from Kabul. She was one of the journalists in Iraq. There she failed to report on the plight of prostituted/raped women? She must have seen the brothels in the Green Zone with trafficked girls — and the Iraqi girls brought in from outside to service men. Where were her stories on this? Did I just miss them somehow?
She and Richard Engel (NBC) need to be covering the prostitution situation in Afghanistan. (Engel did have some coverage of the teenage and child Iraqi prostitutes in Syria — where was Lara Logan in all this? Where, for that matter, was Christiane Amanpour when the Serbian rape camps were going full blast; the non-coverage by women journalists of the most important fact of any war — the bleeding prostituted bodies and remnants of human beings left over after sexual violence — the non-coverage of this seems to be a tradition among female journalists. I guess these women have to get on with the male business of the world. After all, the masculine-centric media has trained them to ignore the essential — the plight of women in war.
I wish that all of the sexual misery would just magically come to a halt. Like a Day the Earth Stood Still scenario. An intervention from elsewhere. Then I would not have to subject myself to any more of the pain of writing about this miserable subject — the rape of our bodies. And the insanity of the human race. The Roman Polanski case has surfaced again. One man uses one under aged girl. I pass no judgments one way or another. I do not say he should have done this. But let us consider that this practice — older men using young girls — is so commonplace in the world as to make it laughable that we punish just this one man and not the millions of others who are dong just what he did — or maybe doing something a whole lot worse than what he did. What about the 100 Greek men who are raping that enslaved adolescent Slavic girl everyday? What about all the American truck drivers in Arizona and California using 13- and 14-year-old prostituted girls at truck-stops? What about the men using under-age street girls in the Philippines? What about the men in India who climb on 8-year-old Nepali girls in Bombay brothels? We could go on and on and on. Why are all these men not being tried and put in jail?
I have come to the conclusion that if men cannot use their penises responsibly, they ought not to be allowed to have them. We need a Big Penis-Removing Machine. Get rid of the Raping Penis, and you solve the whole problem. (I'm not sure about the logistics involved in this Penis-Removing Machine, but we can work it out somehow. We are an inventive species.)
Although increased coverage of sex trafficking by certain portions of the media is heartening, it also makes for depressing reading. The Week (15 Dec. 2006) summarizes a great deal about the situation in a one page article called "The Black Market in Human Beings." The article seems accurate in light of the fact that it reinforces dozens of other sources and what they say. My only objection is that they use an accompanying photo shot in a small room in a New Delhi brothel — young whores crammed into the small space. The photo is sad and interesting but the caption is misleading: "kidnapped sex workers in a brothel in Delhi." Hard to imagine that they could be that free thing called a 'sex worker' if they have been kidnapped. The misunderstanding occasioned by labeling enslaved girls 'sex workers,' as if they had college courses in how to be sold, reminds me of another ridiculous use of the term. A big organization in the USA called the National Organization of Women (NOW) proudly proclaims that they offer their support to 'sex workers' — obviously these women are not aware that they are offering help to the men who traffic and sell the girls and to the men who buy them — and of course those men who do the raping and buying are even worse than the traffickers who do the initial breaking of the girls. NOW seems to have faith in some imaginary realm out there with free women freely selling their bodies. Where does that place exist?
The Week reports that traffickers are now so confident that they will go so far as to hold slave auctions in the corners of airports where they offer Eastern European trafficked girls to the highest bidders.
The article tells actual stories, like that of the 14-year-old Thai girl sold by her father to a pimp who takes her to Australia where she is "forced to service dozens of men a day." Is there anything left of her after this? Who are the Australian men hurting her? Another nation of rapists: this time a bunch of big Australian men climbing on top of a tiny Thai girl and sexually murdering her body. Why are all of these 'client-rapists' not in jail, having their balls chopped off? (Many Australian men gang-raped Japanese girls without mercy, and into unconsciousness in post-war Japan, so I guess this 'fun' kind of sex just runs in their blood.)
Why, for that matter, are Australian women not stopping the ravaging of girls trafficked from Asia into their country? Do they just walk on by the brothels where the girls' bodies are being "forced to service dozens of men"? How would the Australian women like it if this were happening to them? For that matter, how would the Australian men like it if their own daughters or sisters were being used this way? Yet, it is the ordinary men of Australia who are responsible for the use, dozens of times a day, of this pitiful Thai girl.
A 21-year-old girl from the Ukraine, The Week tells us, was "pimped across five countries over the course of 3 years and [was] still being rented out at Bosnian truck stops even while she was dying of AIDS." I guess that those monster rapist truckers are everywhere, from Bosnia to Africa to Arizona.
An Albanian girl trafficked to Italy has a "wasted frame and bruises" from her time in prostitution there. You would think that every privileged Italian woman would rise up to save and rescue and succor this most mistreated of human beings. Instead, I hear that the pitiful and the prostituted are spat at on the streets in Italy, that country of great Catholic charity and repression.
The article does a good job of explaining why sex trafficking is flourishing: the economic impact of fall of the Soviet system "thrust millions of Eastern Europeans into desperate poverty and resulted in an explosion of criminal rings capable of selling women into slavery. Globalization expanded that phenomenon worldwide."
Globalization, it would seem, rather than providing opportunities, has set women back into a sexual stone age (did we ever leave that stone age?). Our bodies have always been rape fodder but the unbelievable scale of rape we are seeing in sex trafficking rivals — no, exceeds — any of the brutal comfort women systems of the past — and of course this affects all women on the planet. It is destroying the sexuality of all of us — and without our sexuality we don't exist.
In this same article, we are told of a girl trafficked from Moldova to Kosovo was beaten so badly she has damaged retinas. Who are the men using these girls in Kosovo? There is still a big multinational military presence there. About 20,000 troops. Are they buying the girls who have been so badly beaten and broken? I am always interested in the military aspect since these are the men I grew up around and the ones I knew as boyfriends during my formative years. So that image of the male is indelible with me. It is imprinted into my psyche, for better or worse. There are women soldiers serving in Bosnia. What do they see of the trafficking of girls?
We learn from this article that, despite trafficking legislation in the USA, very few people have been prosecuted for the problem. The USA does seem to be trying to an extent. But insofar as I can tell the victims are still being treated like the criminals: arrested, deported. If they are psychologically able to testify, they might still feel threatened by their oppressors. Is it even possible for such broken women and girls to testify? If you have cases where it seems that the girls are very badly treated — use by large numbers of men is mistreatment enough, let alone the conditions the girls might 'work' and live under (and of course debt bondage is a form of slavery in and of itself) — if all of this cruelty is obvious in sex trafficking cases, and the authorities still can't prove 'coercion,' then we must have something wrong with the legal system. Is it still so masculine-centric in the USA that the needs of the feminine and victimized and the helpless are not being represented? This is the only thing I can think of as to why women living and 'working' under dreadful sexual conditions would not be considered 'coerced.' Who would ever invite this kind of treatment on herself?
If we ever have a legal system that protects the helplessness of women, then we might get somewhere.
The Week article quotes Mohammed Ibn Chambas, executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States, on the subject of sex trafficking and slavery: "This offense is so serious, so pervasive and so dynamic that only a coordinated effort of all states will be able to address it successfully."
Most slaves, The Week tells us, are used for sex. "Do they ever escape?" asks the article. The answer: rarely.
We have "not even uncovered the tip of iceberg," according to Joanne Parrott, a Maryland legislator and anti-slavery activist. She says that enslavement is probably taking place in suburbia, hidden away. It certainly remains hidden away in the U.S., even when it seems obvious. In some big cities, every few blocks there is a strip mall with a massage parlour called something like Golden Heaven or Delicate Lotus Blossom or Shining Dragon Girl. Who are the inhabitants of these places? Are they trafficked? Local papers will advertise the places, with pictures of smiling Asian cuties and you can go in and get shower massages and who knows what else. These are the same papers that occasionally carry articles relating to women's rights. Publications seemingly unaware that they may be promoting the slave trade.
How do you find out what is going on, since the activities are so hidden and, until recently, the topic itself was forbidden territory? How bad is the trafficking of Chinese girls into New York, for example? How many Latina girls are trafficked to service soldiers at Fort Bliss? How much of the sex trade in Las Vegas is voluntary, and how much of it involves girls, even underage ones, trafficked into the city? Las Vegas is one of the major Sex-for-Sale cities in the world; and countries like Holland and Germany have turned into huge trafficking destinations since they legalized prostitution — yet those of us in the Western hemisphere seem to know more about the sexual exploitation in Bangkok than we do about what is going on closer to home. Why is this subject still so hidden, despite the increasing media attention paid to trafficking/prostitution (thanks in no small part to people like Kristof — we need to bless this man from the vantage point of some non-patriarchal, non-denominational religion for his efforts — I hope he and WuDunn never give up — we really need people like them).
The above are just random questions. I could come up with a lot more of the same ilk, all touching upon why do we still know so little about the sex trade on our own doorsteps. I know that when I was growing up, on military bases around the world, I was a sheltered girl. Fathers and soldier boyfriends and commanding officers rarely even hinted at the big "industrial" prostitution machine taking place outside the gates, to keep all those hundreds of thousand of boys overseas happy and well-fucked — the major perk of military service for the common soldier, the 'grunt,' as he is called: you get to stay well-fucked since cheap sex is all over the place for you.
All of this was hidden from the military wives and daughters on the bases. If it ever arose, it was treated as a dirty joke. A lot of the men had married girls from all over the world — Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Australia — and so the housing areas were international communities. I remember that once it was rumored that one of the Korean wives had been a whore. There was much joking around about this.
I wish now that I had sought out her husband (he was a sergeant) and asked him about prostitution near the bases in Korea. But I was young and innocent and ignorant of that world.
Is that an era long gone, long over with? Or are military wives and daughter still as heartless and insensitive as they were back then?
To wrap up The Week, the most telling remark comes from Julie Myers, U.S. immigration officer: "these [trafficked] women have been mentally and physically broken down in every way in order to achieve a mental state in which they can no longer fight or try to escape."
I feel as if I've said just about enough for one long afternoon of writing. But I want to stress the 'demand' side once more, since we seem to have an invisible population of penises doing all the harm, and no one is talking about this root cause of trafficking/prostitution. Is demand so enormous that we will never be able to control this sex trade, rape trade, what ever you want to call it? I feel bad when I say 'sex industry,' since it seems to legitimize exploitation, so perhaps 'rape industry' is more accurate. Demand is a long neglected factor.
Of course daily reinforcements bombard us — daily bricks that continue to build the wall of the rape prisons. You can't turn on the TV without some untruth about prostitution hitting you. I accidentally run across an old movie, circa the 50's, about a 'disreputable' woman on a Pacific Island where the military is stationed. Exiled from Hawaii for her whoring ways, now she is accused of being a 'bad influence' on all the drunk soldiers who used exploited prostitutes back in Hawaii. Never mind the tremendous exploitation that fueled the rape trade in Hawaii so that all those horny GI's could get their fuck.
In popular culture, it is always the woman's fault. That filthy slut made me fuck her. There aren't any accurate movies about the prostituted. Sugar-coated ones like Never on a Sunday and Walk on the Wild Side and Butterfield 8 certainly don't do it.
I turn the channel and up pops Teahouse of the August Moon, in which we have a geisha who is determined to ruin the morals of all the men stationed on Okinawa after WWII. A fantasy that does nothing to reflect the actual situation: the miserable trafficking of miserable girls into the sex trade to feed soldier needs. Few of the girls survived and the ones who did are haunted by the mass rape of their bodies forever.
So, I switch the channel again and come across an NCIS (NSIS? I can't remember all these acronyms we humans find it necessary to come up with) episode. A Marine ends up being a hero for trying to help a 14-year-old trafficked Chinese girl. It is couched heavily in patriotism. This kind of rescue could happen, but I wonder how come the more exploitative side of these men is never gone into: prostituted girls in Asia report that the Marines are the most rough and hard of customers sometimes. Some of the men even hit them, the girls report. As usual, any participation of the U.S. military in the sex trade — either as traffickers (which they have been) or customers, is ignored.
The episode ends with a bunch of sniveling, huddled, terrified trafficked Chinese girls being gallantly rescued. What they don't tell us it that the girls will now be detained as illegal aliens, possibly deported, and probably almost nothing will happen to their traffickers since the girls will be too terrified to testify. The men who made money off of their rape will be right back in business again, with a new batch of sex slaves.
It's easy to find them. At the rate the world produces surplus daughters no one can feed, there will never be a short supply of bodies to enslave. And it's good the supply is so plentiful since the girls don't ordinarily last that long: mistreatment, disease, insanity, death claim them and where are the ghosts of all these girls on a planet gone terribly wrong and full of rape madness?
Yet one more thing that annoyed me about the NCIS episode was all those tough women who sass the men and act like men themselves. I hate tough women. They are all over TV shows. Don't these tough women realize that it just takes a few rapes to knock all the sass out of them — and then they will be just like the sniveling, terrified sex slaves? Women have no power on a planet where they can be raped.
So, I change the channel once more and catch a glimpse of a trailer for some kind of humorous movie about goats and the military starring George Clooney; and in one snippet there's a brief reference to military men purchasing alcohol and hookers — done in a joking manner. Another surface treatment — hooker as dirty joke — which continues to promote the whole 'gotta get drunk and go fuck a whore' mentality we have seen prevail so long among soldiers. Now, George Clooney styles himself as a humanitarian and has made statements against sex trafficking. No connection in his head between the horrors of sex trafficking and tasteless humor about hookers, who just might be trafficked? I don't know if, in his acting career, he has done one of those typical bar-and-brothel scenes where you see soldiers with painted toy doll prostitutes, looking like they've just come off of some glossy assembly-line, all ready to be bought and used. The Asian Barbie Hooker — for Soldier Use. I hope he has not — otherwise, he would be yet another unaware person adding to the idea that prostitutes are necessary for soldiers so they can 'let off steam.' The idea is part of a bigger problem of course: the notion that men must have access to women who are simply set aside for sexual purposes — and can be bought, as if you were purchasing a beer. And the 'red-light zone' is a 'safety valve' area, where men can go to be men — that is rough and drunk, no matter how much they damage the soft feminine. And, of course, this behavior damages the soft feminine outside the 'official zone,' where it is sanctioned. Treat a girl inside the zone like dirt, and you damage all women everywhere. Men who treat prostitutes like dirt will treat all women like dirt.
Just the fact that the human mind thought up assembly-line sex shows our insanity. What could possibly prompt a species to think that the continuous ramming of a bleeding, near-dead girl is not just an okay activity, but a fun one? And it is not just the men who do the ramming who are at fault. When non-prostituted women are surprised that I hurt from too much intercourse with 'customers,' I think that these women must hold onto some sort of necessary blindness. They don't want to know.
I don't think that all the Vagina Monologues in the world are going to wake up these women. They can apparently sit thought monologues by comfort women recounting the unimaginable pain and disgust and hatred and terror of daily violation, multiple rapes relentlessly inflicted on one body — and still remain unmoved. I've seen it happen. They walk away, go have a latte, block it out completely.
Enough is enough already. I don't want to live every day full of assembly-line sex nightmares and fears. A wise friend of mine suggested that every city in the world should have a building where women can be safe. What a lovely idea. Where is that building?
Instead of being warm and safe, in that building, I am condemned, like some suffering version of the Ancient Mariner, to wander and tell my tale over and over since nothing every changes. Nothing works. You cannot stop the sexual ravaging of our bodies. I intend for this article to be insistent with repetition — like a drum beating and beating and beating. I have to continue to make the same points since nothing changes — and nothing will ever change.
There is no 'rape-free' zone on this planet for the prostitute since ignorance of her plight is so pervasive. In addition to keeping up with articles on the internet and books about rape, sexual exploitation, prostitution/trafficking, military buying of bodies, etc., I occasionally dip into scholarly journals. I just ran across the Oct. 2009 PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association) and the whole issue is devoted to the topic of "War." I pick it up hopefully. Surely, all these great minds will be busy revealing to us the plight of one of the pervasive 'themes' of war: the Comfort Woman. In the entire 500 pages of this heavy, densely-written journal, no comfort women. Not a one. Not even a tiny hair off of one of their heads. One piece, the article by Stacey Peebles, "Lines of Sight: Watching War in Jarhead and My War: Killing Time in Iraq," does make mention of 'whores.' (The biographical note on Peebles tells us she is writing a book on "the American soldier's experience in Iraq." I hope she does not leave out such things as the way the boys can buy an Iraqi girl to fuck for just a dollar.)
Peebles quotes from Anthony Swofford's Jarhead, his memoir of the Gulf War.
Swofford informs us that the Marines get together and watch war movies; in fact, they gorge themselves on the "military pornography" (1663) of films like Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now and Hamburger Hill so as to get all hyped up and excited — and then, as Swofford says, this makes him want to go out there and get drunk and fuck some whores and kick some ass.
I am paraphrasing this a bit more gently than the original passage (on p. 1665) from Swofford. In Swofford, we see the typical parallel between violence and killing and hurting women. Peebles quotes Swofford: "the pleasure of the violent films… is like the pleasure of cocaine or of a good rough fuck."
It is sexual, this act of war, as Peebles (along with many others) notes — penetration, rending, "rough fuck," overpowering and dominating the enemy. Peebles mentions this connection in several places in her article. It is a commonplace of the analysis of violence in the military: men will feminize that which they dominate in order to render it helpless: to "fuck" something is to hurt and destroy it. No tender lovemaking here.
As I see it, the real problem with this war/sex parallel is that the men often transfer the violence over to us women, not in theory but in reality. (I don't see others pointing this out and I ask why not?) And we women are not armed. And our soft bodies are not equipped to deal with this brutal fuck that is meant to hurt and destroy. I am really afraid when I read passages like this since I think of how rough and brutal this man would be if he bought a whore body. It surprises me that more writers don't make this basic connection between war and the sexual destruction of women. If he is this hyped and brutal, he might practically kill a prostituted body with "rough fuck" — and then this will extend to non-prostituted women as well. Allow men to rape one "class" of women and they will rape all of us. Making war means "rough fuck" for all women.
Since my whore body was the sight of some "rough fuck" by soldiers, it is personal. And other whores around the world report that Marines are the roughest and most brutal of 'customers.' Why is only the male point of view covered in this article — as in all the other ones in this PMLA issue — even the ones written by women. Women scholars, for the most part, write like men. They don't know any better. It is what they have been taught. They simply ignore the helpless prostituted women used by men in all wars. Comfort Women. Created by war. Raped by all militaries. Starvation-prostitution and forced sex: the basic fact of all wars. Forcing of the helpless and vulnerable to 'service the troops.' A pervasive historical atrocity of war, a given — from Briseis forward.
Where are the comfort women, not just in this article, but in this whole issue of PMLA? Where is my voice and my prostituted body in their coverage of war? Where, for that matter, is Briseis' Tale? It would seem that the dirty-joke interest in Briseis' Tail still covers up the suffering of the captive woman — she who is forced to whore (and then considered a dirty, throwaway being because men forced themselves on her). Only the point of view of Achilles seems to matter. There is an article in this issue on The Iliad by Marianna Torgovnick, but the plight of Briseis and the other captive women prostituted to the Greeks does not seem to interest her much. Another scholar trained to think like a man. I have asked it before and I will ask it again: Where is the Tomb for the Forgotten Prostitute, for the Unknown Comfort Woman? In which graveyard is she honored — with crosses and ceremonies and fanfare?
As do all others, academics leave out the point of view of the whore. Why is the most savaged and ravaged of creatures not important in this picture of war? After all, she will be far more damaged by Marines than the men they go to war against. She will be soft and helpless and have no weapons to protect herself from these men who want to get drunk and fuck a whore.
Peebles approach continues the tradition of only regarding men as important in wartime. PMLA itself continues this tradition. The writers in this issue might say, "But our subject is not the prostituted." I would ask, "Why not?" We must first devote ourselves to protecting and liberating the most wretched and mistreated of humans. Then, when we have created a world with no prostitution, no war, no exploitation, no starvation, no torture and unnecessary suffering — only then can we allow ourselves to indulge in yet another academic, jargony article on Shakespeare — or Borges, or whoever. No privilege of the intellect at the expense of the plight of the helpless.
Do the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan — the two wars currently involving large deployments of American troops — still have the same attitude about going to war as Swofford did? Is war making a conflation of killing and rough, hard fuck — to hurt and destroy? Do the men watch violent "military pornography" (and maybe violent porn as well, as I have heard soldiers do to get hyped and excited) and do they get all rough and thrusting and savage and just want to get out there and get drunk and fuck a whore? If they do, then why are these men considered noble and courageous? Why do we valorize men who destroy women, who destroy the feminine, in all of its soft helplessness?
Almost this whole PMLA issue is totally masculine-centric, as if the biggest atrocity of war — the rape of the soft, helpless female body, the creation of hundreds of thousand of comfort women to 'service' the troops — as if this simply had no meaning or importance at all.
It's the same situation with these women scholars as with the women journalists — they all write like men since they don't know any better. Ones like Peebles continue to solely represent the male point of view — only the soldier matters — not the helpless soft feminine that he buys and rapes. We really have to stop regarding only men as important in war. What about the one called 'whore,' with such contempt — because she is bought for the price of a beer or pack of cigarettes. To be "rough fucked" by some drunken Marine somewhere. "The proud, the few, the…? The noble men who "rough fuck" helpless whores. And who is this "whore" anyway? Where did she come from? Is she someone's daughter? If so, then why should a Marine be allowed to "rough fuck" her? Basic, important questions that no one asks or answers.
Don't these women scholars ever venture over to the other side of the fence — to the place that has the broken bleeding bodies and broken spirits and dead eyes of these rough fucked whores? What if these drunk Marines rough fucked these academic women, as if they were just insensate things, without feelings? What is the difference between women? Why should some helpless soft girls have their bodies and lives destroyed by men who buy them as if they were just cheap fuckholes — and why should these academic women be allowed the privilege of safety?
I think Swofford's portrait of men and war is pretty accurate. I talked to a lot of Vietnam vets from the mid-60's to the mid-80's. I remember one of them telling me how he and his buddies got hold of a young Vietnamese whore one afternoon and they all took turns on seeing how long they could go on her and who could be the roughest. It was a contest. The winner got free beers. The Vietnam vet form of "bauking." I hope he was making this up. I hope it was just a form of young male bravado. (I can never know, of course, if what all those vets told me in their stories about Vietnam was true.) I'd hate to think of these guys proving how "manly" they were by going at some Asian girl — their bodies are so small, like those of children.
As a side thought, I'd like to know if the buying of girls who are mere children, 14- or 15-years old is because it makes men feel manly to use someone small and helpless who cannot defend herself. As with my condemnation of the indifference of women, I think that the men who don't do this kind of buying of bodies are still complicit in it if they don't stop the ones who do. There are millions of you guys out there who don't buy us. Why aren't you using your strength to stop the men who do?
I want to know why my voice was not represented in this PMLA issue. Why was my prostitute/whore voice completely disregarded by these scholars? I'd like for the editors of PMLA to answer this question for me.
These people call themselves humanists and promote something called 'the humanities.' I guess this is a field of study in which the most outcast and mistreated of women have no 'humanity' or any 'human' existence. These scholars talk about 'diversity' but never once have I seen the whore voice represented in their pages. No whores allowed. They talk about 'Joining the conversation." Well, they never asked me to. Would they refuse to accept my words because I am a prostitute?
Another terrible sin that these humanities people commit is writing in language so dense and jargon-ridden and obscure that they are almost unreadable. I have a Ph.D., for god's sake, and I can't always navigate my way through their abysmal prose. Sometimes they write about painful subjects — My Lai, for example — but in such a way as to never even let on that women and girls were ravaged and killed there. What a dishonoring of the pain of these women and girls takes place when scholars show off their theory-ridden, jargon-heavy language — at the expense of the terrible suffering of others.
"Ritualized post-modernist spaces of suffering in trans-textual rape narratives" and "the unmitigated demystifications of violence and gendered ecstasies (re)positioned visibly within disempowered discourses" and I don't know what all else they say that makes little sense as normal English — it is an ugly and insidious use of language which hides the truth rather than revealing it. It is called "theory" and I am so happy I am too dumb to be theoretical. I would be ashamed to write the way these people do.
MLA membership includes fancy, top-notch women scholars and male ones from all over the globe. I don't see these intellectual women (or men) who say they are part of the 'humanities' doing anything humane for the suffering women of the world. Their self-indulgent, scholarly articles don't contribute to the liberation of women in any way; instead, they obscure the pain of those who suffer — it gets lost in their muddy, unreadable prose.
These "humanists" who have not the faintest idea what "humanity" is.
There is actually one article in this issue that does not leave out the soft suffering feminine: James E. Young's "Regarding the Pain of Women: Questions of Gender and the Arts in Holocaust Memory." Young points out that the sexual suffering of Jewish women during the holocaust is largely ignored. (So what else is new, I ask: the sexual suffering of all women is largely ignored.) I expressed this view — about the sexual torture of Jewish women being ignored — in my book, The Raped Vagina. The sexual torture of the Jewish women is forbidden territory for the historian — not considered important enough to notice — not even, apparently, by the women themselves, who did the suffering, since they have been brainwashed into thinking that female sexual suffering is trivial (it would seem that every other writer in this PMLA, except maybe Young, has been similarly brainwashed).
I have been trying to make this point for a long time: Female sexual suffering — irrelevant in war or peace. Irrelevant to the holocaust, to the many exhibits of the holocaust that so self-indulgently tell us that this was The Big One. Not even Bangladesh, with 400,000 women raped, some kept in Rape Camps and used 80 times a day, is important. That was not The Big One. That was not really suffering. Since it involved women's bodies.
So, finally, some coverage of the sexual torture inflicted on the Jewish women. But even this writer does not mention the prostituting of girls in the Warsaw ghetto: it is what starving women do — they sell themselves.
(I guess that rape is the respectable sexual torture: forced prostitution the disreputable one.)
Young does not write about the most horrendous atrocity of the war — the way girls and women were brothelized in the camps to serve the soldiers. Ongoing rape of a helpless body. It is the huge mystery, the huge puzzle — why do scholars, journalists, the rest of the human race not consider the greatest sexual torture of all — the mega-rape of the female prostituted body — as not even worthy of mention. Not even a dishonorable mention, let alone an honorable one? Where, as I have said elsewhere, is the Tomb for the Forgotten Prostitute? In which graveyard is she honored — with crosses and ceremonies and fanfare?
Well, I wrote a letter to PMLA. About the above. Full of all my objections to their 'War' issue. They will probably never publish it — so I am glad, at least, that I could express those ideas here.
It seems that rape intrudes everywhere. I just heard a news item about a 15-year-old-high school girl in America who was gang-raped for two hours at a high school dance. A few hours after the incident, she was found unconscious. Her case will be noted. It made the news. But just imagine if she were being used 20 hours a day, like 15-year-old Albanian girls are in London brothels. They are rendered permanently unconscious. Why don't they make the news?
We women are powerless. We have no feminine space on Rape Planet Earth. It is a hopeful illusion when magazines like Glamour and Cosmopolitan do cover stories on "Love and Sex" and "Bad Girl Sex" and when they set out Sexual Bills of Rights for Women. None of this applies to the prostituted. What a joke any kind of connection between love and sex must be to her. What a cruel joke is the idea of "bad girl sex" to a poor adolescent who is raped daily by "clients" and spit at for being "bad." What a joke "hot sex moves" must be to the trafficked girl is force to do anal till her rectum falls apart. Soft and helpless women are, something soft and helpless between the man and the bed. "Lives of Sex Workers in Post-Modernist Ideology?" "Lives?" What lives? Women have no role in the world. We are just rape fodder.
I will end this part with a remark by a Polish friend of mine who has lived all over the world — including in southeast Asia and India, and has worked at shelters for prostitutes. She said: "Don't try to save anyone. These women don't want your help. They're hard and ugly and greedy and selfish. They have been kept so ignorant by their men and by their society, they don't even know who they are. Most of them can't even read. They're not going to magically change. They will try to get money out of you because that's all that they know how to do. They don't know anything about being 'enslaved' or free or being 'oppressed by the patriarchy.' These ideas are so far beyond anything they can understand. I leaned to forget about them. I can't help them. They hated me for trying to help them. They are too ruined for anyone to help them. And I started to hate them because they were so ugly and ignorant. They are the worst kind of women. They don't know anything about being women."
These are not her exact words but they are the gist of what she said. I never understood fully, from her, why the woman in southeast Asia and India wouldn't want help. The only other prostituted women I know are Western ones — from the U.S. and Canada. They share a common background with me. They went to the same sorts of schools I did and at least know what I mean by 'freedom' versus 'enslavement.' They respond similarly to the way I do about being prostituted. They have the same idea I do — that it is an outrage of sorts being committed on them.
"But I was nice to her," says the serviceman to me about his purchase of a Thai prostitute for a few days of companionship." "It was still rape since you bought a body," I say. "After all, isn't that slavery, buying a body?" This is not to say that I would ever take this girl's 'job' away from her or try to 'rescue' her. I would never be so presumptuous as to think I could help her in any way. And I bless the soldier who was nice to her. Better him than some ugly brute who would sodomize her with an umbrella and leave welts across her nipples from a coat hanger.
I must just go with what I know. And what I have learned. My reading has taught me about this thing called the 'patriarchy' and the rape of my body taught me that men rule the world. For this reason, I always have to define prostitution as a form of rape, even if you are having sex with a gentle client. You can't really have a sexual situation where a man has the money and the power and the strength — and he feels entitled to purchase the most precious and intimate part of a woman — without it being a form of rape. The entire system is designed to benefit the dominant male and keep the submissive female in her place — as a body for one purpose — to be used for sex. Not for her pleasure, but for his. So, it is rape.
I think in the case of illiterate, ignorant, unaware third world women who don't know they are being raped or enslaved, my notion still prevails. I can see beyond where they can, because I have an education, and this is a good thing. It should obligate me to point out the problems with the sale of the female body — wherever it occurs and under whatever circumstance. The degree of mistreatment and exploitation matters enormously. Prostitutes subjected to extremes of sexual torture rarely survive. But this does not mean that they are the only ones who need my outrage. Any girl bought and sold anywhere, is, to some extent, being raped by this patriarchal world and its ideas that men matter more than women. I think my analysis of the above article on Swofford's Jarhead illustrates this inequality. He wants to go out and fuck a whore. She is generic. She has no more feelings than a piece of plastic. And no one but me asks, "Who is this woman so casually labeled 'whore.' What kind of world have we created for women where some must be set aside and designated as insensate fuck holes for soldiers?" The inequality is staggering. But what is even more staggering is that writers on war (all those except me) don't even notice this inequality. Only the soldier, with all his bleeding heart PTSD, matters; the bleeding girl he "rough fucks" and rapes is simply non-existent in the general consciousness.
But enough about the Marines. When I had one as a boyfriend a long time ago, it was a different matter. Now they depress me. Let's move on to other areas of pain. I feel that as long as one girl in a brothel is having her vagina cauterized with a hot iron to cover up venereal sores, I have to keep sounding like a Modern Feminist Ancient Mariner with a ghastly tale to tell the world. Doomed to repeat what cannot be changed. I think I am the only feminist I know since Feminist Forums leave out Briseis and her kind. The Forgotten One of History: even though Homer may have made her up, she is still very real today, as just one of millions of captive daughters. In fact, I was tempted to call this article Briseis' Tale (Tail), but didn't want to be pretentious — and too obscure to be understood. Since we can have whole issues of scholarly journals devoted to war, without Briseis even deserving a nod of the head, it is my fate, my doom, to repeat her tale, over and over, since she is all Comfort Women everywhere.
I think that, as a former prostitute, my biggest message to the world is a simple one. It is to convey how utterly revolting and disgusting sex without any kind of love or tenderness is. How revolting being up against men you do not know is — your body on his and he disgusts you. Can't the average non-prostituted woman imagine for a moment how sick she would feel if she had to have sex with a man a couple of minutes after he walked in the door, without even knowing him? Just imagine how the trafficked girl in the Soho brothel feels when this is repeated 40 times a day. How many minutes elapse before he walks in the room and he is inside of her? She does not even know his name. Of course the only survival method is numbness. Never look at the men's bodies or eyes or revolting weapons. Complete numbness. Maybe blind prostitutes are the most fortunate ones. Unfortunately, you can't block out the smells of the men.
This grotesque travesty of sex — getting it stuck in you a couple of minutes after you see the man; he is just a revolting sweaty ugly heavy monster ramming you. What kind of sex is this? What kind of perverted, beyond redemption human mind thought this up? It is so puzzling that normal, non-prostituted women never consider the disgust the girl feels, or the hopeless numb state she has to be in to not feel anything at all. Just one 'customer-rapist' a day can do this to you, let alone 40 or 50 — or a hundred.
I feel as if I should wrap this up with a current note. I started with Hillary, I will end with her. Kabul. Full of UN personnel, and NATO forces and U.S. forces and contractors. Find out, Hillary, please, the next time you are over there, how the trafficked Chinese girls are doing in their brothels. Find out who is using these girls. Lara Logan — you, too, find out about the helpless, the used, the bought, the debt-bondage sex slaves. Find out about the Afghan girls being prostituted. What is their plight? What kind of shape are they in? Prostitution must be particularly rough on girls in conservative societies where women are worth little. It is practically unbearable in places like the USA and Western Europe where women do have some status: to be prostituted takes you down to the throwaway, disposable level again.
I want the women world leaders and the women journalists to find out for me who these big, strong, rough Marines are buying? If the Marines are going out and getting drunk and buying whores, still, as they have done in the past, who are these whores they are buying? And fucking? Not just fucking but "rough fucking." Do the girls have names and backgrounds? Did they have lives of any sort before they became fuck holes for rough, drunk Marines? Why are they left out of everyone's consideration and consciousness? It's as if the whore that the soldier buys has no humanity or feeling or even existence — beyond just being a hole for "rough fuck." Why should this happen to any girl — why should even one anywhere in the world be used with roughness, treated without respect. Why should any woman be subjected to the rough fuck of a drunk hard soldier?
Why are all the women politicians and world leaders and journalists not being treated like this? You can't have a Lara Logan safe in Kabul, and sexually respected, if even one Afghan girl is being prostituted. So I want to know why this journalist is not telling us about the prostituted? I want to know why, when she interviews Marines, she is not asking them about the "whores" they are "rough fucking."
The powerful women of the world, like Hillary, and the journalists, can take action by refusing to let prostitution remain hidden anymore. Countries find it 'embarrassing' to admit they are prostituting girls. The girls themselves can't say anything since they are so deeply 'shamed' by 'allowing' themselves to be raped all day. These attitudes can be stopped if we bring the 'shame' of raping girls for money out into the open. Every female journalist needs to probe every war for the hidden misery of prostituted women. The women politicians need to force every place from Dubai to India to Pakistan to Mexico to Turkey (add a whole string of other countries — there are too many to list) to admit the horrendous prostituting of women and girls which they cover up.
Some Afghan women have turned to starvation-prostitution. If the new U.S. military policy regarding prostitution as exploitation is really in effect — and if it means that absolutely no soldier (or contractor, for that matter, since they are also part of our wars) is buying a body anywhere in the world — this is great. If this is the case, then we need to move onto the next step. That prevention of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict areas. Prostitution is a form of sexual violence toward women. So, we need to be helping all the women caught in prostitution because of war. This includes Iraq and Afghanistan. Time to offer a few billion dollars in aid to help the 50,000 prostituted Iraqi women and girls in Syria. Time to make sure not one more gets trafficked to Dubai (time, for that matter, to make sure no women or girl — Iraqi or not — gets trafficked to Dubai. Time to use a billion or two to make sure not one single woman or girl in that country of perpetual war, Afghanistan, has to ever sell herself again. Let U.S soldiers be rescuers, not rapists. Let them, as one vet suggested, kick down the doors of all the brothels — and set the inmates free.
* * *
I am now going to switch to a different topic. I am going to talk about The Plight of the Truly Helpless. I speak of the animals. I think they are The Great Crusade. The Biggest Cause of Our Time. To liberate them would be to liberate all of us.
Animals are far more helpless than even the most mistreated of sex slaves. What men do to her does not even compare to the torture we inflict on animals. Even the most wretched of raped child prostitutes in the brothel cesspool of Bombay is better off than the animals humans torture.
I could give thousands of examples, but I'll just use a few, since they have been in the news recently. Mercy for Animals (MFA) filmed baby chicks being ground up alive. When chicks destined for the egg industry are born, they are sorted. The video shows thousands of the tiny things peeping away as they roll along on conveyor belts — they blanket the belts, so numerous are they — as workers sort them by sex. The females are destined to become battery cage hens; the males, useless to the egg industry, are tossed into a chute where they roll down onto rotating blades that slice them to pieces.
The process is routine for the workers who do the sorting: they toss the tiny things carelessly into the chute, as if they were not living things. We see them tumbling around on the rotating blades, as they are being ground up.
The workers are indifferent. Enormous and unthinkable cruelty treated as the norm. Torture and pain inflicted on the helpless. A norm. That 'banality of evil' in full force.
And, of course, every time you eat eggs, you are complicit in the torture. MFA would like supermarkets to label the egg cartons so that they tell of the torture of these helpless chicks — little creatures far more helpless than any abused human child.
The egg industry simply regards the grinding up as necessary — the male chicks are a useless byproduct — no big deal. Another indication, to my mind, of the insanity of our species — that humans could actually think that tossing live chicks into rotating blades is no big deal.
The females have it even worse since they live. Shortly after birth, they have their beaks seared off with a red-hot blade — an unimaginably painful procedure since the beak is full of nerve endings — it would be like you having your nose and lips chopped off. Just born, with no chance to even snuggle under a mother's warm wing, and they are mutilated. The tiny chick's eyes blink with astonishment and misery as the blade sears through this precious part of her. And the male chicks: they hatch, they are sorted, they die.
The girl chicks are debeaked so that they won't peck each other to death in the cages where they live crammed against each other, with no room to even spread their wings, for the bleak nightmare of a year they last, laying eggs, until they are worn out and then they turned into pet food, baby food, and chicken soup (that balm for the human soul). The nerve pain in their beaks lasts their whole lives, and they have trouble eating and grooming themselves with the mutilated stubs. It is pathetic to see them try to do normal activities like grooming with their chopped off beaks and even more pathetic to see them try to dust bathe on the floor of their wire cages, a normal activity denied them, since they have no ground to stand on, and no room to even normally spread their wings. Imagine living in a small closet your whole life, crammed in with half a dozen others, so that you cannot even extend your arms and legs a few inches — and you get the general idea of the torture we subject these poor hens to.
Far more tortures await these female chicks, but an extensive description of this is not the point of this section, so I will move on. (Go to Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary, and United Poultry Concerns for more information on battery cage hens. Just suffice it to say that the hens live under conditions worse than concentration camps, sweatshops, and brothel rape houses combined.)
I run across another news item about a roller-skating bear in the Russian circus killing his trainer, for no apparent reason — or so the article says. Well, we could try years of beating, torment, and starvation. How about the way they burn his feet to make him stand up and dance? Routine torture to train circus animals. This same article describes a severely malnourished zoo bear attacking a child. Why was the bear malnourished? The article doesn't say. Nor does it mention the standard training methods (torture methods) inflicted on zoo animals. Much is left out.
Elephants all over the world are trained the same way — beatings. Torture, terrorizing them with fire, tearing their skin with bullhooks, shoving electric prods up into vaginas and ears and other tender places. Most elephants in circuses — this includes the ones in the USA — are females since the males are too hard to control. You can usually break the spirits of the female through hours of beatings, but then you need to keep hurting her to keep her submissive. PETA has some recent footage of the constant beating and jabbing with bullhooks that goes on behind the scenes just before the elephants are sent into the ring.
Elephants will not do these stupid, degrading tricks, like standing on their heads, unless we force them to. And who ever heard of a bear voluntarily putting on ice skates? You would think that the stupid creature we call the 'public' or the 'human race' would have figured this out long ago and stopped patronizing circuses.
You think that humans would stop eating eggs when they know the torture involved in producing them. The information is no longer hidden. Just go to the internet.
There you can also find Earthlings, the greatest animal rights movie ever made, and watch men in India rubbing peppers into the eyes of helpless cattle, to make them move. Bone thin and near death, they are being driven to factories where they will be rendered for leather. Ill and with ropes through their noses, by which they are tied together, the cattle are bleeding as the ropes saw through that delicate part and their eyes are wide and terrified and desperate — until they are blinded by the peppers. India, that spiritual nation, really outdoes itself this time. This is a country where the cow is sacred? It is a country that is also a specialist in the torture of elephants, but I will leave this gruesome spectacle for another time. Enough is enough already.
All countries torture animals in unimaginable ways. Factory farming. At least ten billion food animals a year in the USA live and die under conditions too horrifying to describe. And the phenomenon is worldwide.
I once saw a video shot at a pig farm in southeast Asia. Pigs confined in metal cages too small to allow them to turn or even lie down fully. When the woman in charge of them walked by the cages, they twisted and jumped and screamed in desperate efforts to gain some attention, from her, from anyone. The ones going crazy just chewed their metal bars constantly until they had no teeth left, and the ones too far gone in insanity and illness to even care anymore simply lay crumpled, with dead eyes, in the filth of their small prisons. Animals that never leave the small spaces we put them in. Animals that go insane from the small spaces we put them in. And it is not just the animals that we eat. Puppy mills treat dogs to the same confinement: these are the places that the dogs for pet stores are turned out, assembly-line, as if they were things, not living beings. For Dateline, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) filmed a dog in her puppy-mill cage spinning endlessly in circles, so quickly she looked like a merry-go-round — driven insane by being kept in that small space her whole life, poor creature.
Back to those poor pigs in southeast Asia — the woman farmer laughed and joked and smiled as she walked by the tortured animals.
People in Turkey throw live street dogs into trash compactors.
Farmers in the American Midwest shot pigs who were desperately trying to swim to safety during a flood. The poor things had escaped the absolute hell of factory farming and now were killed for trying to save themselves.
All of this makes me wonder — why even bother to help humans?
Other than some kind of extraterrestrial divine intervention, like in The Day the Earth Stood Still, we are doomed — by our cruelty.
Our species is some kind of experiment gone terribly wrong. The sooner Rape Planet Earth gets rid of us, the better. Then it can just return to being Planet Earth.
As long as one baby girl chick is having her beak seared off, the whole human race is culpable. We all participate in the indifference, the sadism, that "banality of evil." When the Hindu Dashain festival is celebrated in 'spiritual' Katmandu, they chop off the heads of baby goats and lambs in ritual sacrifice. In one video I saw of the festival, two paper-thin young cows, one pathetically chewing his cud, were tied by short ropes to a post as they waited their turn to be part of the 'sacred.' I wonder about these religions that sacrifice helpless animals in the name of the spiritual; or those that sacrifice a young girl on the altar of sexual sadism by placing her in prostitution so as to worship a savage goddess of some kind of weird sexuality that I have no concept of. All these people with their hands to their noses, bowing away, pretending to be spiritual. What kind of wretched form of sexuality can these people possibly believe in if they have to put some young girl of thirteen or fourteen in a bed and let middle-aged rapists climb on her all day.
Boy, we are a sick species. Sick and sadistic. Murderers of helpless little goats and lambs.
As usual, I have no solutions. The Doris Day approach is probably best. When she was filming The Man Who Knew Too Much in the Middle East back in the 1950's, she was appalled by all the starving, ill animals, mostly horses and donkeys, that she saw. Some would be used in the movie. She wanted to leave. In fact, she refused to do the movie unless she could help the animals. So, she set up feeding and vet stations for them. At least, while she was there, they saw a bit of kindness — and that all-essential element — food!
Action. Doris Day took action! All by herself. I wish I had her courage.
Of course, she had to leave but at least she gave those helpless creatures some small comfort during the time she was there.
It's about all we can do. As with the trafficking situation, in animal rights, nothing works. You can save individual animals. That works. (It is much harder to save a person. Most are beyond salvation.) But you cannot make a dent in the numbers. For the little handful you can help, billions and billions of others are suffering.
I find comfort in caring for the animals I have rescued. They give me a transcendent purpose. Along with the mountains outside my door. I find comfort enjoying the health and peace and sunshine of this moment, on this October day. I find hope in thinking that maybe I will move to Sweden or Norway or Iceland — three countries that seem to be helping the helpless in terms of trafficking legislation that actually seems to be working.
I find comfort in reading, but the books do not, sadly, mean as much to me as they did before I knew about all the suffering in the world. I pick up a Daphne du Maurier novel and think how, as Albion's Child, I loved the misty atmosphere of Cornwall. And of how I was fascinated by that period between the wars in England — the era of Sayers and Tolkien. Now the escape into the literary only partially soothes, so heavy are the burdens of life. Even escaping into the lush wetness of old forests, and listening to wood doves and seeing a small deer, with two big-eared fawns, bound elusively away, no longer soothes. Even wet green meadows, and cricket played on a sunny, cold afternoon as the wind ripples the grass; even the ancient trees in Green Park; even those secluded places where the wild thyme still blows — none of this soothes.
I am surrounded by thinkers and writers, all busy telling the world what is wrong. I think the time for articles and interviews and studies and scholarly papers is over. We don't need to write anymore — I didn't need to write this sad little piece that no one will ever read. We have the data — about how humans suffer. We also know how animals suffer. The plight of the helpless is everywhere visible. And the solution is so simple. Give every living being space and freedom to move, and sunshine (except when it rains) and food and a warm, safe place to sleep. It's as simple as that.
Copyright © 2009 Suki