On his way back to his lodgings from work, John Hui found himself falling into a conversation with a girl who worked in the sex trade industry.
Hui worked with NightLight International, a non-proft enterprise that employs women out of the commercial sex trade by offering employment, biblical discipleship, and vocational skills training that operates out of Bangkok, Thailand.
“I saw my friend,” Hui said, speaking of the girl, “20 years old, not too different from me, traveling this same train as me, however simply born into a completely different world.”
That world that Hui referenced is commonplace in southeast Asia, especially in Thailand and Malaysia, both of which were accused by the US State Department’s Office for doing the least among all other nations to fight human trafficking.
The ambassador of the State Department’s Office Luis CdeBaca mentioned that over the years, Thailand demonstrated that it was progressing somewhat in sex-trafficking cases, but “very little progress has been made in prosecuting the widely documented abuses of migrant workers and official complicity in them.”
When Hui continued his conversation with the girl, he said, “The conversation began to move towards why she chose this particular profession. After I said, this, I saw her make the motion signifying ‘money,’ with her thumb pushing back and forth over her other fingers.”
Indeed, the money involved in the sex industry is staggering. The sex trafficking industry brings in a total of $217.8 billion each year, and each victim of sex trafficking has lent, on average, $23,000 to the total amount.
However, contrary to what might be common belief, the sex workers do not all work out of financial desperation. At the same time, girls in Thailand are fed into the system so quickly that they don’t have time to recognize the fact that there are other employment options available for them.
When asked what she buys with the money she makes, the girl told Hui that she purchases “nice things, like clothes, the new iPhone, or make-up.”
Their social situation determines exactly how these girls’ lives play out. “These are streets that every time you walk out, half of the population is suddenly defined as property, or for many, as an escape from the realities of their own lives. Prostitution is so deeply ingrained in the culture of the streets that is it simply commonplace,” Hui said.
The industry’s statistics are appalling. Over the world, almost 10 million children are given over to sexual exploitation in this trafficking enterprise, and over two million children are employed in the industry annually. Many of the children are below the age of 18.
Hui said, “There are many ways that evangelicals can help to combat sex tourism. Without hesitation, the first thing to do is pray. Powerful movements of God do not generally come without his people abiding in him. I would urge those passionate about this issue to fervently pray every day and to join with others to do the same.”
Documentaries like “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” detail the sex industry and educate viewers, and Hui urged students to advocate against the sex industry on their college campuses.
One unexpected piece of advice that Hui gave was to quit visiting pornographic websites.
“Stop watching pornography. The core of the sex trade isn’t necessarily an issue of supply, but demand. The sin of the sex trade is multi-faceted, and by watching pornography, one is joining this bucket and allowing him or herself to directly contribute to the same sin. Watching pornography objectifies women and turns them into commodities.”
It is somewhat comforting to know that the United States is putting pressure on Thailand and Malaysia, two heavy offenders in this worldwide issue. The US would “withhold some forms of aid and cultural exchange, or oppose some kinds of assistance form the international bodies like the International Monetary Fund,” according to the New York Times.
Hopefully, combined with the efforts of individuals to combat sex trafficking, the infamous sex industry will begin to lose its influence that holds so many in fear.
Photo creds to 99holidays.com