Professor Exposes Students To Sex Trafficking Issues

A majority of prostitution is forced. Photo by Oliver Gruener.

The students in Ignacio Ramirez’s Family Violence class are always shocked when they watch the film.

The associate professor of sociology at Texas Tech said he thinks the students connect to the sex trafficking documentary on an entirely different level than textbook material.

“There are places around the world where prostitution is legal,” Ramirez said, “but the vast majority of prostitution is forced, and I would categorize it under coercive sex slavery.”

Ramirez said the primary victims of sexual assaults, rape, and sex slavery are women and children, showing this to be a gender issue.

Justin McCullough, a junior sociology major from Big Spring, Texas, who is in the Family Violence class, said the documentary film they watched was eye-opening and drew a strong response from himself and other classmates.

“There were a lot of people in there that it made their stomach turn,” McCullough said. “It was upsetting.”

McCullough said before he saw the film he had minimal knowledge in the area of sex trafficking and prostitution but after learning about the issue, decided it is something people need to know about.

Most people do not see this as a topic directly affecting them here in the United States, he said, but it happens here more than people would like to believe.

Professor Ramirez said even when looking at prostitutes in a developed country there are often many different circumstances leading them into prostitution.

“To say it’s the choice of the person is kind of minimizing a lot of the other causes that we need to look at,” Ramirez said.

According to “Prostitution and Trafficking in Nine Countries: An Update on Violence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” 89 percent of prostitutes want to get out of the profession.

Ramirez said he agrees with the approach used in Sweden of criminalizing the buying of sex but decriminalizing its sale. In this way the prostitute, who has the least say in the matter, is not the one punished for her exploitation.

Robert Pardue, a senior human sciences major from Graham, Texas, said he disagrees with the view that any aspect of prostitution should be illegal.

“The sex trade is kind of like the drug trade, it’s going to happen no matter what,” said Pardue, after a short pause. “It’s just a matter of whether it’s monitored or not.”

Pardue said legalizing and monitoring prostitution would help minimize the health risk to prostitutes as well as reduce the potential for the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

“I don’t think it’s really right to tell people they can’t do that if it helps them get by in life,” he said, “but with children, there is nothing right about that, and it should be outlawed completely.”

“The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico” reported the average age of minors entering prostitution is 12 to 13.

Hailey Bishop, a freshman electronic media and communications major from Liberty Hill, Texas, said she does not think it could be the children’s choice at that age considering they probably do not understand what is happening.

“I just came from Haiti, where I talked to a little girl who was forced into prostitution at age 7,” said Bishop, “so I can’t really rationalize in my mind how that was her choice – that is something she was forced into.”

Bishop said she thinks sex trafficking and prostitution are important issues needing more frequent discussion to increase awareness on the subject.

Professor Ramirez said he thinks educating young people in the area of gender equality will help address the problem of prostitution.

“If you give somebody the same opportunities at a very young age,” Ramirez said, “it is going to go a long way in the choices they make.”

About John Potess
%d bloggers like this: