I firmly believe there are comparisons which are beyond humans’ capacity to make moral distinction. “Which is worse?” we ask, and forever people will parse the tiniest facts. Today, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, is as good an occasion as any to point out that the which-was-worse industry has an inexhaustible mother lode in the Stalin-Hitler comparison (on which I commented here).
One of the worst indictments of Southeast Asian societies — apart from the tens of millions of corpses intentionally done to death by their elites — is their enthusiastic embrace of the sex industry. From organized brothel tours for middle-aged Japanese businessmen to being a mecca for American pederasts, that part of the world has a stinking, suppurating sore right spang smack in the middle of its face. And of course notwithstanding the occasional hunk of red meat thrown to the activists — the token raid on some out-of-the-way bordello — you have to take as a given that officialdom is thoroughly compromised. The industry could not function as prominently as it does were they not in it up to the elbows.
I suppose you could make the argument that if those societies want to legalize the sex trade in whatever manner they please, we in the West ought to kindly bugger off. There are in fact legitimate arguments you can make along those lines, and some of the people making them are women who are actively engaged in the sex trade themselves.
Whatever else might be said for or against the industry generally, I think you have to draw the line at recruiting by kidnapping or sale. [And for me as well, recruiting by caste. There are castes in India the females of which are prostitutes. That’s what they do, it’s what they’re destined to do from the moment of their birth. I decline to accept that as a valid cultural expression. But that’s just me.] Kidnapping or sale into prostitution, however, I would submit are 100%, no-counter-argument-valid, off-the-charts unacceptable. Everywhere, by anyone, under any circumstances. Those are not, by the way, peculiar to Southeast Asian societies or the modern world. Mark Twain writes of the slave markets — and the girls for sale there — of Constantinople in The Innocents Abroad, in 1867. In Rome slave girls were regularly bought and sold for such purposes. For centuries the Tartars raided deep into Russia, looking for pretty girls to carry off. I would suggest, however, that so far from legitimizing by association the practice, the existence of those practices are indictments of those societies, and reasons to damp down any cultural admiration for them we might otherwise feel.
Let’s go ahead and damn the kidnappers, the buyers, the brokers, the brothel owners who will whore out a captive 13-year-old, and the customers who leeringly keep the whole ship afloat. While she may have come from a brutal world (her family may have had the choice between selling her into prostitution or watching her starve to death), while she may exist in a brutal world even outside the special hell that is her life, I think we all can agree that the people who do to her what is done to her are guilty of sins for which they will one day have to pay, if not in this world then in the next.
These girls and women are subject to the worst exploitation of their physical persons, which is about all they have in this world. How contemptible is it, then, that they are not only directly exploited by their captors and their captors’ customers . . . but indirectly by those who nominally are there to help them?
It emerges that the patron saint — so to speak — of the anti-sex-trafficking industry is nothing more than a fraud. At least some of her spokespeople are frauds, coached to lie about their lives and their stories. And why? Well, let’s just say that Somaly Mam, whose story of sale into sex slavery turns out to be manufactured from whole cloth, has been doing herself mighty proud. Jet-setting around the world, meeting with all the bigwigs (for which she must be appropriately dressed, of course), staying at the most posh hotels. The book deals, the movie rights, the rubbing elbows with people whose names are household words all over the world, getting showered with awards by the likes of CNN, Glamour, and Fortune. If the actual girls rescued from sex slavery get short shrift . . . well, Humpty-Dumpty couldn’t be put back together again, and besides isn’t there a major conference in Prague next spring we’ve got to get ready for? At least they’re not being locked up for enjoyment by some decrepit, diseased paper-pusher from Yokohama on a package tour of Thai kiddie brothels.
The linked article over at The Atlantic deals principally with how Nick Kristof let himself get used by this woman, and how the rest of the media-war-on-wymyn industry gleefully sang her praises. Honestly I can’t say any of that part of the story surprises me. The manufactured hero-of-the-moment, not infrequently created by the media themselves, is of too ancient vintage to be news any more. But what kind of a filthy bastard, what kind of human scum, do you have to be to use the juvenile sex slaves of these hell-holes of the world as your ladder to fame and wealth?
These girls are twice exploited, and I think it’s an open question which set of blood-suckers is the more cynical, the more reprehensible.
Damn them all, in any event.