Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Epidemic of Sex-Trafficking

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner has built quite a legacy, but it's not the legacy that most people will talk about when he finally shuffles off this mortal coil. His real legacy can be found in an article by Chuck Neubauer in The Washington Times. Neubauer never mentions Hefner nor anything that's usually associated with the man who more than any other single person gave the sexual revolution its impetus and its intellectual justification, but his legacy is implicit in every paragraph of Neubauer's column.

Neubauer writes about the epidemic of sex-trafficking in the United States and the stories he tells and the statistics he cites are truly shocking. The whole article should be read, but meanwhile here are a few facts he cites about sex abuse, not in Thailand or Africa, but in the U.S.:
1.6 million children younger than 18 — native and foreign-born — have been caught up in this country’s sex trade.

Analysts say the number of children sexually exploited in the U.S. or at risk of being exploited is between 100,000 and 300,000.

The average age of entry into the sex trafficking industry in the U.S. is between 12 and 14 years old.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the lead agency in trafficking investigations, has estimated that 800,000 people are trafficked into sex and forced-labor situations throughout the world every year.
The story of "Jane" is typical:
Jane’s fall into the world of sex trafficking began in May 2008, just before her 15th birthday. Jackson, her pimp, forced her to work as a prostitute in Portland. When she protested, he beat her. “He made me believe I was not human and I was just for one thing — to make money for him,” she said, calling her life a nightmare and suffering bruises and scars from many beatings.

Asked why she didn’t leave, she said, “I had nowhere to go. I didn’t know anybody. Where was I to go? He threatened to kill me all the time.”

On one occasion when he got mad because she had not made enough money, she said, he pushed her down and punched her in the face, saying, “You are going to die tonight.” She said she pleaded for her life and promised to do whatever he said: “Just don’t kill me. I thought I was going to die.”

Of that beating, the FBI later said, “She awoke to find Jackson holding a firearm at her head and swearing on his mother’s life that he would kill her.” The bureau said that “several times a week,” Jackson choked her, pulled her hair, pushed her and struck her with his hands, a belt and a coffee pot, and that he “tried to bite off her finger.”

“I trusted him even after all this stuff. After he abused me, I still thought it was love — I thought that this is how it was supposed to be. … Most of our arguments were about money,” she said, adding that she had sex with six men a day, sometimes eight or nine. “I was bringing him $600 a day, but he wanted more.”

Jane got out of that life when she was arrested in October 2008 and an FBI agent asked her whether she wanted to go to Children of the Night, where she now lives. She said it was the first time she was treated like a victim instead of a criminal. “I had the FBI on my side. I could actually tell they were trying to help me,” she said.
So what does any of this have to do with Hugh Hefner? Hefner never advocated this kind of thing, did he? He was big on consensual, uncoerced, recreational sex with no strings attached, wasn't he? Yes, but.

Hefner's Playboy empire gave Americans and others a big push out on to a hedonistic slippery slope. He persuaded the post-war generation to detach sex from morality and thus from marriage. When sex is detached from marriage it is perforce detached from commitment. When sex no longer entails a commitment then marriage as an institution is gravely weakened. When that happens millions of girls grow up either without a father or in the same house as their mother's live-in boyfriend.

Fatherless girls become easy prey for male sexual abuse. The most dangerous place for a young girl is in a home where there are adult males who are not her biological father, and the number of such homes exploded in the 1970s as marriages fell apart. The increase in fatherless homes was due largely to three interrelated phenomena: easy divorce, easy contraception, and the belief that sex had little, if anything, to do with marriage, a belief that was central to Hefner's "Playboy Philosophy".

Today that "philosophy" is bearing its tragic fruit in the epidemic of sex-trafficking which ensnares and ruins the lives of countless thousands of girls every year. These girls by the tens, maybe even hundreds, of thousands are sexually abused, forced into prostitution, or forced into pornography, or, commonly, all three. A "never-ending stream" of abused girls, as one who works with these girls put it. That's the legacy of the sexual revolution. That's the legacy of the Playboy Philosophy.

Way to go Hef.