“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matt 18:5-6
I picked up a book the other day by David and Beth Grant, longtime missionaries to Bombay India, titled Beyond the Soiled Curtain. It is a tale of hope and despair regarding the child sex slavery business in Bombay. I’ll certainly share more about the book in the coming days, but for now, I wanted just to quote a few statistics.
One million children each year are exploited in the global sex trade. Fifty percent of all trafficking victims worldwide are children. Ninety percent of the women in the sex industry in Bombay started when they were under the age of 18.
There are more numbers than these – and they are all staggering. They are frightening. They are oppressive.
Those who frequent this blog will know that I feel the proper role of government is the collective defense of rights. Actions that do not directly violate the human rights (e.g., life, liberty, property) of another individual should not be restricted by the government. To do so is to overstep their bounds. As such, I have argued in times past that, strictly speaking, prostitution does not violate anyone’s rights. It is unseemly, immoral, reprehensible – it is undoubtedly sin. But as long as it is a mutually agreed upon decision, then I see no role for government intervention.
Having said that, the situation in Bombay is anything but legitimate. This is not mere prostitution – it is slavery. These girls are kidnapped, stolen, or bought at a young age. They are forced into prostitution at criminally young ages, early teenage and even pre-teen. This is a massive, unquestionable violation of human rights. There is absolutely a role for government in preventing such actions.
To address the issue, there is a bit of work to do regarding the definition of life, liberty, and property. In India, children are viewed as property. Furthermore, girls are seen as an utter liability. They bring no benefit to the family – they are nigh on despised. Because of this, girls are often sold into sexual slavery by their own parents. It’s the only hope the parents have of recouping some of their losses over having a female child. It shocks American sensibilities.
Are these girls to be property of their parents, or do they have human rights of their own? I believe they have inherent rights as persons. (But, I believe personhood starts at conception, and thus I oppose a number of other oppressions against human rights.) What right then to the parents have to sell the children? What rights do parents have to sign contracts on the children’s behalf (particularly if the children are opposed and stand nothing to gain)?
Before we launch into a moral high-road tirade, let us consider our own house as well. Is there sexual slavery in America? YES. Women are trafficked into this country as well. It’s not as open as it is in India, but it’s there. While we’re spending millions ineffectively battling drug trafficking, we are spending insignificant amounts (by comparison) battling demonstrable violations of human rights. Odd, for a country that once fought a devastating war over human freedom to not react as virulently today.
But it’s not just human trafficking. The abuse of children goes farther. What about parents who dig massive debts in their children’s name – leaving the bills for the kids to pay? What if the kids had no voice, no input into the deals made in their names, but are forced to pay anyway? Is this not also a violation of human rights. Are the children not being “sold” in a sense by their parents?
What am I talking about? For decades this country has built up massive entitlement programs (social security, medicare, medicaid, welfare, etc.). These programs will lay a massive debt burden upon our children – who had no voice in their development and management. Their future has been sold by parents unwilling to make hard decisions now – unwilling to pay their own way. Think about that, parents, the next time you support ever increasing entitlements that are fiscally unsound (here’s a hint – THEY ALL ARE). Think about the next time a politician suggests raising the retirement age for social security and you rail against the unfairness. Are you really willing to continue to subjugate your kids and grandkids? Are you willing to sacrifice their future for your own well being?
This is not the American way. We do not lay burdens on our kids, we take the burden ourselves so they can have a better future. We pull the hard duty, so they can have peace and prosperity. We may have gone astray from that principle.
As for India and the rest of the child slavery trade, there is plenty of work to do. And, there are plenty of opportunities for wealthy Americans (here’s a hint – WE ALL ARE, by the world’s standards) to give to the needy. (I’ll post some links shortly.)
In the mean time, we also need put our own house in order. We need to end the trafficking in our country. We need to end the practice of selling our kids’ futures for our own benefits now. We all have work to do.