Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buying Back My Daughter: The Global Sex Trade Must End

The above is a small trailer for the film Buying Back my Daughter.  It is disturbing as it reveals the true cost of poverty. Cambodia is an impoverished third world nation and as a result young women are being sold into sex slavery to support their families.  These women clearly do not want to sell their children but feel that they have no other choice.  As  western women our first impulse may be to judge the parents for their decisions, but to do so is to neglect our culpability in the sex trade. 

As western citizens daily we participate in trade that has a negative impact on the rest of the globe.  When we grocery shop, or make debt laden trips to Walmart, what we are doing is supporting a global economy that exists through the exploitation of cheap labour in third world countries.  When we purchase a bunch of bananas for thirty-nine cents a pound what this means is that the worker that grew and picked those bananas did not get paid. We exist with a sense of entitlement. Through an accident of birth westerners have come to see consuming as an inalienable right despite the fact that our over consumption of the worlds goods relegates the majority of humanity to poverty and suffering.

It is no accident that those largely effected by the global slave trade are girls and women.  Female bodies are deemed meant for consumption by patriarchy and since patriarchy largely controls global trade, female bodies have become just another commodity no different than a shipment of wheat, or coffee. Through the global slave trade we can see how the interaction of gender and class work together to limit the life chances of women all over the globe.  These women exist without power because they are poor and female. Patriarchy has worked to create a disconnect in our minds, and this is only proof of the validity of interconnectivity.

As we learn about the terrible crime of the global sex trade it is quite easy to dismiss it because we feel powerless to create  change.  This is an expression of western privilege. If it were our daughters that were routinely subject to this kind of treatment, we would not be able to turn such a callous eye to this situation.  Since women are sold because of poverty the best way to combat the sex trade is to combat poverty.  We know that western corporations profit from cheap third world labour and therefor it is time to start demanding that these corporations pay a living wage. We can further refuse to support unfair labour practices by not purchasing items we know to be made through labour exploitation.  Do not purchase items blindly, take the time to investigate the companies business practices.  Teach these corporations in the only language that they understand - profit margins, that human lives are worth more than capitol. Everyday acts have the potential to make a large difference if we all commit to change. As I have said before and will continue to say, all bodies matter.


Mountain Woman said...

Thank you as always for focusing our attention on larger issues in the world.

Ojibway Migisi Bineshii said...

Yes, thank you. This impacts me very much. Your views and the way you write is very holistic in regards to connecting all points in these issues. Your blog is wonderful and I am grateful for it. I am going to email you - so check your inbox!


Megan Bayliss said...


"Everyday acts have the potential to make a large difference if we all commit to change."

The sex slave trade is alive and flourishing and must be stopped. We each have a role in stopping it.

I am heading to the markets right now and instead of buying the nicest looking tomatoes from a commercial grower, I am going to go to a stall that grows their veges in their back yard - a refugee family from Sierra Leone, it is an immediate way I can support people to support themselves rather than forced options of necessity like selling sex as a commodity.

Digging and Stumbling the post for you Renee. Excellent post!

Dwacon® said...

The way our economy is going... I wonder if this will soon be the status quo in our country as well?

nhuong said...

Thank you for raising attention to this problem. Sometime people are desperate and they do bad is very sad.

There is so much corruption in Cambodia, things like this happen everyday. The same government got re-elected. I guess there's not going to be muc "change" in policy.


This really opens my eyes to my own priveleges as a Black women. Priveleges that put me "above" other women in third world countries. How dare I complain about the price know, whatever...when their are so many situations like this going on and I am buying from companies that buy from these countries dirt cheap. I do feel very hopeless because I dont think Americans will ever care. But I know IIII will do whatever I have to do to stay away from these countries. It may not be perfect but its a start. Thanks!

tanglad said...

"...but to do so is to neglect our culpability in the sex trade."

Beautifully said. It still surprises me at times how otherwise well-meaning people, including social justice advocates and fellow feminists, refuse to see the systemic nature of issues like the global sex trade. They ask questions like "how can we help them over there?" Well, there's a lot you can do right here, in North America and Europe, by examining your priveleges, your consumption patterns. By thinking about how your own actions impact the lives of other women. Of course, it's hard to do this, or even admit our own complicity. It's much easier to buy something from Project Red or the Body Shop and think that your enlightened consumption helps.

professorwhatif said...

Great post. Thanks for alerting me to this upcoming film!
The last three words are stellar -- "all bodies matter." Indeed.

digitalkath said...

Hey I know you live in the area and you're obviously interested in this topic so (if you don't know about this already) I'm inviting you to Brock University for "Sex Work: Activist Interventions From Canada to India". It starts at 7pm on Friday September 26 in Academic South, Room 203. The film "Tales of the Night Fairies" will be shown and there will be a panel discussion afterwards.
If you want more information contact:
Dr. Margot Francis, Centre for Women's Studies, ext. 5381

Andi said...

I thought that human trafficking was bad, but definitely not this bad. I am also truly inspired to figure out what exactly i am buying.

Leila said...

The last 3 words say it all! Thank you so much for voicing this very important crisis. It definetley got me to think a lot, seeing as though I am only 18 years old, and it opened my eyes. I would love to see this film, thank you for letting me know about it!

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