Monday, October 25, 2010

The Alleged and Actual "Bad Parenting" That Results in Children Living Out On Streets that are Not Home

photograph of Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap is from here
It annoys the shit out of me when non-Third World and non-impoverished people propose that the solution to things like prostitution abuse is "better parenting" as if incest and battery of children, and lesbophobia, homophobia, and transphobia in families, aren't big ol' glaring factors in why many children in the West/North run away from home. And as if poor parents anywhere in the world are, intrinsically, bad parents. As if pimps, procurers, war-mongers, drug-dealers, corporate polluters, capitalistic greedy bastards, selfish, callous, and inhumane jerks, and other predators aren't THE problem with regard to children being out in the street. There are so many obnoxious "First World" assumptions about life and complete ignorance about realities that some of us in the U.S. and the Global Northwest simply do not face--and that some of us in North America, for example, DO face but are not reported about because the rich white het male-controlled media doesn't give a flying fuck about poor children and women of color on or beyond this continent.

For those of us living in great denial with equally great arrogance and significant structural and social supports, we assume that everyone has the same options, the same freedoms, and the same levels of privilege and entitlement, to do what we want, including to work in sexxxism industries, or not. So the line between "choosing to work there" and "being enslaved there" is made blurry only by those who have enough privilege and/or denial to believe everyone "chooses to work there".

So let's be clear: if you're not living in abject poverty, earning less than three dollars a day income, shut the fuck up about what bad parents some parents are for letting their children out into the street to be picked up by pimps. Because, really, you have no fucking idea what's going on. None at all. You have no idea how pimps are, necessarily, smooth operators, lying bastards, who approach poor parents sometimes and pretend to represent educational institutions in the West/North and propose that their child will actually thrive in the Global North/West if only they can get to a good academic institution located in that far off place.

Maybe a parent (inside or beyond North America, South Asia, Eastern Europe, or Central America) wants something likes this for their child, something other than abject poverty and hunger. Maybe the pimp is very good at what he does: lying and stealing, including stealing children from parents through deception and the manipulation of powerful love so many parents have for their own children--a love so strong one would be willing to not see one's own child for years just to know s/he has a better life as defined and delineated by the pimp. And, then, most tragically, the pimp brings the child into a life far worse than any imagined hell. And the parents are betrayed and may not get to know this for some time. So, that's not bad parenting, to be clear. That's called "effective pimping and trafficking and slaving". Just for the record.

Please click on the title of the article to link back to the source website and watch the short video that goes with the text if it doesn't play below.

Promise of better life: tricked into India’s sex-slave trade

Campaigners in India are demanding that authorities step-up efforts to battle what has become a real plague for the country - sex-trafficking.

With little value placed on girls from poor families, it is thought more than a quarter of a million women are trafficked in India each year. Some are as young as nine, and come from the rural areas of neighboring Nepal.

The parents of the victims do not always realize what the world outside their home is like, says Ruchira Gupta, the president of an anti-trafficking NGO called Apne Aap (which means self-help in Hindi).

”The parents may know a little bit about what Bombay [Mumbai] is if there is television in the village. To them Bombay represents a lifestyle rather than a brothel, and the difference between hunger and food and a job,” she explains.

It is easy to cross the border between India and Nepal. There are well established routes for trafficking.

“India is the epicenter of the sex trafficking industry right now in the world. The reason is that there is low enforcement of laws against traffickers, pimps and johns,” says Ruchira Gupta.

In the northern state of Bihar, rescue groups keep an eye on the trains passing through.

”It's not easy,” confesses Sita, one of the social workers. “When we ask youngsters where they are going, they say they are going to study. If a girl is traveling with a boy, she says he is her brother. But when we demand their identity cards, we see they aren't related.”

“We have no work in our village. I have two young children and when I was promised a job in Mumbai, I decided to take up the offer,” one of the rescued women says.

It is an easy to convince young girls in a village hundreds of kilometers away that they can make it big in Mumbai.

“Girls are misled by people offering them jobs in big cities,” says Bihar Police Inspector A.K. Gupta. “Some are convinced that they can be a part of a dance group, and are conned into coming to India.”

Taking into account the gravity and the sheer size of the problem, campaigners want to see villagers in Nepal given more warnings of the dangers, and the police more active in clamping down on traffickers.


Spinster said...

Are there really people in the world who say that children CHOOSE to go into prostitution? Really?

Let me just quit Earth right now. :-/

(good post, by the way)

Spinster said...

What a wonderful world. :-/

Julian Real said...

Welcome Spinster,

There are men who will say--in an "advocacy" sort of way, that children want and should be able to "obtain" sex with adults.

But the post is in response to someone in one of the sexxxism industries with various levels of privilege, including North American/Global Northern privilege telling me that the problem of children in prostitution is due to bad parenting. I will quote the person who stated this directly:

"I think that it is a bit ridiculous you believe that all woman in the sex industry are victims. The only victims are the young girls who, unfortunately, are not getting the parenting they deserve! My mother was a single parent and very seldom at home. I am a stripper. But I also was an adult when I decided to choses that path. I was taught to respect my inner self and my body. I was taught to be strong and think for myself even at 12 years old. Why are these parents allowing their daughters to hang out downtown and go to parties with older boys? Do they not have a curfew? They are children! To say strip clubs, of all the sex industry establishments in Pornland, are the root of why there is trafficking or prostitution of young girls is asinine! Have you done any field research yourself? Do you even live in Portland Oregon?"

Julian Real said...

Also to Spinster,

I'll note that I don't say what women in the sexxxism industries are and I don't believe I've ever made the claim that "all women in the sex industry are victims". Women can determine their own levels of empowerment, liberation, and victimisation.

My blog focuses on men-as-sexual exploiters, procurers, traffickers, pimps, rapists, and slavers.

I believe men who engage in sexually exploitive behavior are not being humane and are being abusive. Does this mean that all the people they exploit and abuse are "victims". (The knee-jerk reaction to that term being used these days warrants its own post here. It's socially okay for men to systematically victimise women, but it's not okay to note that women are systemically victimised by men, apparently. What forms of oppressive power and control are maintained with that linguistic handcuffing? I'd say pro-patriarchal/racist/capitalist power.)

I don't know all the women in the sexxxism industries and cannot possibly answer that completely individualistic question; it is so very typical for people who apologise for or defend the "good" in the sexxxism industries to restate someone's beliefs to make them seem "unfair to women".

Here's what and who is grossly and grievously unfair to women, to be clear: capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, slavers, rapists, traffickers, procurers, and pimps. That's my view and I'm sticking with it not because I give a damn about upholding ideologies that are anti-patriarchal, but because I believe that harm that is systematic and systemic should be named as such, even if it brings many of us into contact with realities that we'd rather not face. And I believe it is imperative to notice who benefits from systems of abusive power and who doesn't. Poor children anywhere in the world don't benefit from capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy, particularly when they coalesce in industries like pornography and in systems like prostitution.

Does "don't benefit" mean all poor children are "victims"? Anyone can answer that question any way they like, but if they think children aren't harmed by grossly abusive systems or sadism and callousness, what would the term be for what those children are?

And, is what we call those children--or what we call adults--even the issue? What about focusing on the ways that those systems do their sadistic, callous, exploitive harm? Why isn't THAT the issue and not when and how the term "victim" gets used?

As I see it, one has to be quite privileged or in denial to think use of the word "victim"--the speaking or writing of it--does more harm to women than men victimising women.

Julian Real said...


I welcome your response to my comments here.

Spinster said...

I see exactly what you're saying. As a social worker, I've become very interested in human trafficking as of late, and this gives me even more food for thought in relation to it. (and what was that woman talking about??? Ridiculous.) Thank you.

Spinster said...

I see exactly what you're saying. As a social worker, I've become very interested in human trafficking as of late, and this gives me even more food for thought in relation to it. (and what was that woman talking about??? Ridiculous.) Thank you.

Julian Real said...

Hi Spinster,

Much good luck to you in your social work. I hope you have the opportunity to assist and work with women and girls who have escaped or who helped each other get out of the traps of trafficking, away from pimps' control, and out from slavery.

If you don't know about Ruchira Gupta's organisation Apne Aap, you can find her on Twitter and find out all she and so many courageous young women and girls have done, and what sort of post-trauma assistance girls and women request who get away from pimps and slavers. I know there are many in the U.S. who want to put forth the idea that being sold or selling oneself is harmless or that it can be personally empowering, but if you walk around in Holland and look into the women's eyes in the red light district, it is so very clear that significant dissociation or disconnection from oneself in order to do that work at all. When I was in motel rooms servicing a man for a few years, it was many things and not one of them was "empowering". It intensified my own post-traumatic stress from childhood, and played out old core beliefs about myself as only wanted as a sexual thing for some man to use/abuse. My experience informs what I know but I'd never base my understanding of what women experience on one male's life.

Regardless of how varied individual women's experiences are, the issue here is how the industries and systems of exploitation impact ALL women worldwide, not only the individual women in those sexxxism industries and systems of male entitlement to women's and girls' bodies. How, for example, the reality of global sex trafficking sets up all women to be seen as either existing as "sexual service stations" for men's use and abuse, profit and pleasure--borrowing a phrase Jennifer Drew of the UK coined, and how prostitution generally makes male supremacist mistreatment of all women and girls more likely.

The rest of my reply follows...

Julian Real said...

See, for more, these statements from women who know all about what goes on because these are the women who were there:

And also, if you wish, please read this speech by Andrea Dworkin, who was on the street selling herself at one point in her young life:

Again, I hope you are able to bring a global feminist/political perspective to your colleagues on the individual and collective harms of prostitution, trafficking, and sexual slavery. There is a need, I believe, for those of us in more wealthy countries and regions to be accountable and responsible to those without wealth, regardless of where they live, particularly whole classes and groups of people who are targeted by pimps and slavers, such as First Nations women in North America and women and girls in South Asia.

Spinster said...

Thank you. I'm from the States but currently work in the United Kingdom, where trafficking is becoming a major concern. I recently attended an introductory training and will attend the advanced one next month. I've been interested in the effects of trafficking for at least a year now, and I receive the GEMS newsletter on a regular basis.

I know someone who firmly believes that prostitution is empowering and positive and etc. He's a gay Black male who I thought might understand things from a "minority" point of view - being seen as less than due to skin color and sexual orientation - but because he'a trained as a lawyer, he tries to argue down anyone who says otherwise. I'd like for him to tell that to the girl I knew back in the States who has sex for sneakers and clothes because her father neglected all her needs and her mother is on crack. (that was my former co-worker's client)

I commend your courage in speaking out and exposing yourself for the greater good. I'll follow that organization on Twitter right now.

Julian Real said...

Bless you, Spinster.

And you're more than welcome to tell the man you mentioned, the lawyer, to contact me here about his beliefs about prostitution.

Virtually all the men I know who make such claims, across race, region, sexuality and ethnicity, are pimping women. As a gay man, perhaps he is pimping young males. I can't know what the case is, or who his clients are in his legal practice--does he defend pimps and traffickers, I wonder?--but I welcome him to engage with me here on the subject.

Spinster said...

I don't think he's part of the Bar yet, and for some reason says that he's going back to school to work in the health professions. He's very inconsistent/flaky like that. :-/ I don't know his full history but wouldn't be surprised if he was involved with exchanging services for money, to be honest with you. If he mentions "empowering prostitution" again (what a sick juxtaposition), I'll direct him to you.

I have you on my Facebook page; what I may do is post your link on my page over the weekend and tag him to see if he joins the conversation.

Julian Real said...

Thanks, Spinster!

I hope he finds you on Facebook and then finds me here. I look forward to debating him on these issues.