Monday, June 18, 2007

Catholic nuns warns of trafficking danger at 2010 Olympics

This story in The B.C. Catholic illustrates how difficult it is to speak frankly about human trafficking, much less to actually do something about it.

As athletes around the world train with all their hearts for the 2010 Vancouver-Whistler Olympics, a darker element will likely tag along to the Winter Games, warns Sister Joan Dawber.

[Criminals] are preparing to operate the euphemistically-termed "comfort houses" which involve trafficking in humans, most often women and children, while the games play on.

At a day of reflection, entitled “With Open Eyes, With Open Ears, With Open Hearts,” Sister Dawber and Sister Marie Elena Dio examined the root causes of world poverty and trafficking in humans ... The reason a subculture which traffics in humans can exist in our midst, reflected Sister Dawber, is simple: profits from such activities are as large as the plight of its victims ...

Certainly that's true, as trafficking in humans is the third most lucrative illicit trade globally, after drugs and arms. But with all due respect, Sister Dawber glosses over the ugly reality that human trafficking is a black market dealing primarily in sexual exploitation.

Some trafficking victims are industrial slaves, but most are enslaved in the horrifying, soul-destroying "sex trade" that caters to the voracious appetites of men in affluent countries for no-strings sex.

Buying fair trade products and lobbying govt and corporations, as she suggests, might make us feel like we're doing something about human trafficking. However, I doubt it will do much to stop the ruthless mafioso that trafficks in human beings.

With all due respect, I think it's time for everyone, the Sisters included, to face the harsh reality of what exactly drives the market that this mafioso caters to.

I hate to sound like a stuck record, but Victor Malarek's book, The Natashas: The New Global Sex Trade, lays it all out pretty clearly.

The Sisters (and the writer) might also want to talk to anti-pedophilia crusader Doug Stead of Port Coquitlam. They might be surprised to learn that many of the patrons (and profiteers) of this lucrative market are otherwise fine, upstanding citizens working in law enforcement, the judiciary, education, business and just about every public institution in existence.

It's all very well and good to create good optics by drinking fair trade coffee and the like. But I think it would be far more effective to take personal responsibility for our own part in the problem. If nothing else, we could educate ourselves and face the ugly reality. Maybe a good next step would be to start demanding accountability on the part of the patrons and profiteers of this disgusting and dehumanizing "trade" instead of calling on the government to do it for us.

I do appreciate, however, that drinking coffee is much easier ... and safer.

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