Sex is powerful. And as everyone knows, sex can have an extremely dark side. In most parts of the world, it’s widely accepted that people have a basic human right not to be forced into unwanted sexual activity and a right to engage with a person of either gender without the threat of violence, harassment, discrimination or exclusion. Nonetheless, we still have intolerable levels of both human trafficking and anti-gay hate crimes around the world and here in the U.S.
- Human trafficking affects an estimated 27 million modern-day slaves worldwide, 1 million of those are children. Most victims of human trafficking enter the $32 billion global sex trade. Believe it or not, some 100,000 children in the U.S. alone are forced into prostitution each year. Children’s rights advocates are lobbying for the passage of the Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act, recently staging a national day of action to urge Congress to pass the bill.
- The state of Texas and the city of Houston have the dubious distinctions of being the human trafficking capitals of America. The Lone Star state accounts for a quarter of all human trafficking in the U.S., due mostly to its proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. Preparations are already beginning to mitigate an anticipated flood of prostitution during this year’s Super Bowl in Dallas. The Texas attorney general said that for last year’s Super Bowl tens of thousands of children and adult women were brought into Miami for prostitution. "There is an organized effort to bring in women and children... for the purpose of trafficking in sex,” the Texas AG warned.
- This follows a hugely successful grassroots campaign to curtail human trafficking on Craigslist, which culminated in a Congressional hearing and Craigslist shutting down its erotic services advertising. Also a win for human rights worldwide, CNN has named Nepalese anti-human trafficking activist Anuradha Koirala as its person of the year.
- Recent incidents in New York City this fall refocused many human rights advocates on the issue of anti-gay hate crimes. In early October, two men beat a patron of the iconic Manhattan gay bar Stonewall Inn after learning that they were sharing the men’s room with a homosexual. Just days later, a similar hate crime was committed at Julius, NYC’s oldest gay bar. During that same week, members of the Latin King Goonies gang in the Bronx reacted to rumors of the homosexual activity of one of its teenage members with a heinous gay bashing session. Four men were reportedly beat with chains and sodomized with bats. Even Glenn Beck, a conservative who has at times been characterized as intolerant took to the airwaves to condemn this brutal attack, calling it “a whole new level of evil."
Advocacy organizations for human trafficking and gay rights abound, so there are plenty of ways to get involved. You should also check out some of HeadCount’s Personal Liberty updates on gay rights issues here and here. And of course the most important way for you to have an impact on the issue is to contact your local elected officials to let them know how you feel about these important issues.