Each year, between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders, according to the US Department of State.
I recently watched the movie, Trade and it was sobering. The movie follows a young 12-year-old girl named Adriana who was taken from her home in Mexico City to be trafficked into the United States and sold for sex. Ray, a Texas police officer, who is searching for his own daughter who went missing years before helps Jorge track down his sister before she is auctioned online to the highest bidder. After a horrific, abusive trek over the Mexico border and to New Jersey, the journey ends as Ray bid to purchase Adriana out of her slavery. Trade brings to light many different issues including the sexualizing of modern US culture, which in part drives the vast human trafficking empire, the lies that abusers and traders use to lure women, girls, and boys into the sex trade, and the blatant disregard for a human being. This story ended relatively well for Adriana but not for Veronica, the woman from Poland tricked into coming to America, nor for the estimated 50,000 to 100,000 people trafficked into the US each year.
Before every counselor can define what a healthy person is, a goal for the counseling process, one must first define what a person is. In our Theology and Spirituality in Counseling class we tried to define what a person was (from a secular perspective), something that was assumed to be easy turned out to be quite difficult. It seems the definition of what a person is has changed many times throughout history. Legally, it is a major issue these days when it comes to abortion and even the debate on whether to grant dolphins personhood since they are intelligent and seem to have feelings. From a Christian standpoint, a person is not only someone who has volition, emotions, intellect, memory, a soul and a spirit but is someone innately valuable for the image in which they were fashioned after – God.
An underlying question of personhood resonates throughout the sex trafficking crimes. Not only of personhood but of value. A person who can kidnap another and sell them as a product cannot hold human life in much esteem. In a society plagued by relativism, devoid of any moral standard, the buying and selling of human products is not only accepted but also thriving. Is this problem really about the legality of black market sex or about pornography and sex addiction? No. I believe this issue runs deeper and goes back to the creation of man. What really is a person and what does that mean in relation to value?