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Commercial Sex or Modern Slavery?

February 11th, 2013 by

Most people think slavery ended centuries ago.

Unfortunately, modern day slavery is alive and well.

According to the The Administration for Children and Families, “Sex trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years.”  Sex addicts who pay for sex, whether they know it or not, may be perpetuating this modern form of slavery.

Exploiting the Vulnerable

Patrick Carnes, in Facing the Shadow, describes sex addicts who pay for sex as “often profoundly unable to protect or take care of themselves.” Confusing sex with nurturance, they pay for sexual services in a failed attempt to meet their emotional needs. Not only is using commercial sex to meet one’s emotional needs a completely misguided notion, it’s ironically fueling a worldwide epidemic that capitalizes on the misfortune of others.

Sex traffickers, for example, take advantage of vulnerable women who have few other options. One of their methods is lure women to other countries with loans and false promises. According to the U.S. Department of State, debt bondage is when “women and girls are forced to continue in prostitution through the use of unlawful ‘debt’ purportedly incurred through their transportation, recruitment, or even their crude ‘sale,’ which exploiters insist they must pay off before they can be free.” Also, sex traffickers, in order to control their victims, may threaten them with bodily harm, keep possession of their identification papers to restrict movement, or pay them little or no money.

In Harm’s Way

But sex addicts who pay for sex are, for the most part, completely blind to the plight of these women. They often justify their behavior because they don’t think they’re harming anyone. They believe that because they’re not having an affair, they’re not really cheating on their partners. And they think that what their partners doesn’t know can’t hurt them.

The truth is that someone does get hurt! In a 2001 report by Donna Hughes and Janice Raymond, funded by the U.S. National Institute for Justice, 15 international and 25 U.S. women who were victims of sex trafficking were interviewed. 56% of the U.S. women required emergency room treatment for the injuries and illnesses suffered while in the sex industry. Most of all women acquired sexually transmitted diseases. 63% of U.S. women said they had tried to hurt or kill themselves. And 92% of all women used drugs or alcohol to cope with life in the sex industry. This doesn’t even mention the damage one does to oneself as a sex addict and the insidious effects that ongoing use of commercial sex has on one’s significant other.

Sex addicts delude themselves into thinking that commercial sex is meaningless. But engaging in commercial sex is anything, but meaningless. Sex addicts who use street prostitution, massage parlors, and brothels may be participating in an indirect, systematic violation of people’s fundamental human rights. But regardless of whether sex addicts are violating someone else’s rights, there’s always a price to pay.

In sex addiction, like anything else, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.


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