The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought. – Emma Goldman
As I have often pointed out, many of the beliefs presented as “political positions” these days are actually religions, and that includes those which sell themselves as “scientific” or “atheist”. Any organized group which insists on “rigid adherence to a morality and interpretation of reality…derived entirely from knowledge revealed in sacred scriptures by [its] founders…[and] must be accepted unquestioningly by adherents” is a religion, no matter what it calls itself or whether it has a definable deity; it is based in faith, not science or logic, and any attempt to understand and deal with it as anything other than a religion is doomed to failure. This is why the “sex trafficking” myth is so pernicious; its adherents believe in it just as Christians believe in the divinity of Jesus, and no weight of evidence is sufficient to convince them otherwise.
I chose Christianity as the subject of that analogy because “sex trafficking” mythology is an outgrowth of Protestant theology; as Yvonne Zimmerman points out in her book Other Dreams of Freedom, “the theoretical basis of US government anti-trafficking efforts derives directly from Protestant theology and traditional ideas of what she calls ‘sexually pure and pious womanhood’.” The Salvation Army was one of the earliest and most aggressive promoters of the “white slavery” panic (the first iteration of “sex trafficking” hysteria), and is still beating that drum (pardon the pun) today; furthermore, the myth-narrative itself is clearly a development from the Satanic Panic, which was itself merely a recrudescence of the intermittent witch-panics so common in post-Reformation Europe. At first the “trafficking” fetishists were careful to disguise their campaign as a secular one in order to forge an alliance with neofeminists, but as signs of the disintegration of their manufactured hysteria have multiplied in the past year, they have grown more desperate and careless, exposing the fundamentalist Puritanism which underlies the whole paradigm.
Then on February 28th, the anti-whore crusade experienced a major setback when funding to the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons was sharply reduced as part of more general (but still extremely superficial) cuts in US government spending. For a short while it looked as though the Trafficking Victims Protection Act might not be re-authorized at all, but at the last minute it was added by Senator Patrick Leahy as a rider to the deceptively-named Violence Against Women Act of 2013, whose passage (despite hysterical claims by whitebread feminists) was a political certainty. While this extended the unnatural life of the War on Whores until 2017 (note that date), one wouldn’t know it from this article by Janice Shaw Crouse and Brenda Zurita of the conservative Christian group Concerned Women for America, which clearly reveals the true sin-punishing motive behind the “anti-trafficking” cult:
Do senators and representatives even know…[that the bill] they just voted for…included an amendment with egregious problems[?] The two worst ones are draconian cuts to the…TIP Office…and the…decriminalization of prostitution for minors…The once vaunted TIP Office is now on its way to becoming nothing more than white noise…Ambassador-at-Large John Miller fought hard to protect the office from attempts to dilute its authority and its mission to hold countries accountable in their efforts to end human trafficking through prosecutions and victim protections…[and] the U.S. became the world leader in ending modern-day slavery. Leahy’s…amendment hands the regional bureaus of the State Department the means to undermine the significance of the annual Trafficking in Persons report…The TIP Office was established to be the central location to direct the United States government’s anti-trafficking efforts. By dividing that authority, real leadership will be impossible …[the amendment also] slashes the TIP Office funding by more than 70 percent from $7 million to $2 million. This will make it impossible for the TIP Office to fulfill its statutory mandate as the agency responsible for leading and coordinating the Federal government’s anti-trafficking efforts. Without a strong TIP Office, the TVPA will never be faithfully implemented and trafficking issue decisions will inevitably be subordinated to such traditional agency concerns as maintaining good relations with foreign governments…
On the domestic side…senators and representatives voted to endorse the decriminalization of prostitution for minors in the United States. Did they do this because there are many, many minors being arrested for prostitution? According to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, there were only 763 arrests of minors…for “prostitution and commercialized vice” crimes in 2011…the DOJ will encourage states to prohibit the charging or prosecution of a minor for engaging in or attempting to engage in prostitution. While this sounds like a compassionate thing to do, it may actually lead to an increase in the number of minors in prostitution…gangs are using prostitution to make money…While pimping would still be illegal…imagine what will happen to minors who think that prostituting is a good way to make money…How many of them will join up with a gang or a pimp to sell their bodies and then facing the horrific reality of the decision…Many will see their pimps as their boyfriend [sic] and will not self-identify as a victim [sic] of sex trafficking. When law enforcement does not have the power to arrest and through that arrest get the minor into a rehabilitation program, minors may remain trapped. When the judicial system no longer has the authority to keep victims in rehabilitation programs through an arrest charge, the victims will be able to walk away from a shelter anytime they choose. Most will walk right back into the arms of their pimps…
One can practically see these busybodies’ faces turning purple and the veins standing out on their necks. While their anger over the partial defunding and potential marginalization of their Holy Mission is understandable, their real apoplexy is reserved for the idea that without the threat of being manhandled and caged by the Soldiers of the Righteous, thousands of junior Jezebels may voluntarily enter into sex work and not even see that they are helpless victims of dirty, dirty sex!!! And what’s more, without the cudgel of law, girls will be able to make decisions for themselves rather than being forced to endure brainwashing designed to convince them of their sinful, fallen state!
The increasing prevalence of articles like this one, which so transparently emphasize Christian dogma of sexual sin, guilt and punishment, are a welcome development to those who support sex worker rights. The more closely “trafficking” rhetoric is linked to anti-sex, anti-choice Christian demands such as criminalization of abortion and suppression of casual sex, the more non-Christians and moderate Christians will be repelled from it, and the faster the coalition which has driven the hysteria for a decade will collapse.