Just when reality television could not possibly get worse, along comes “Cathouse” a program detailing the lives of women working in a Nevada brothel and the man, “Daddy,” who appears to be the owner of the establishment. Not fodder for the intellectual mind, to be sure.
One particular scene that was telling, was a conversation between the camera and one of the “girls” in which the prostitute claims that she is “old fashioned.” Apparently, for this woman, that means thinking that only men should be pilots, women should not have to make decisions and a woman in a relationship has the responsibility to do whatever the man she is dating asks of her. “Daddy” thinks this attitude is perfect and tells the camera that if all women felt this way, men would be happy and he would have no clients. Truly a man’s world, disgusting as it may be.
Women are commodities in that brothel, but at least they are getting paid for their efforts. “Daddy” is there, presumably to protect the workers. The reality of life for girls and women abducted into sexual slavery is far more distressing. The most recent statistics available from the U.S. Department of Justice reveal an astounding problem: of the populations tracked, Latinas made up the largest group of trafficked sexual slaves: 37 percent; a third of people brutalized by rape, intimidation, beatings, diseases are children.
In the past, the spotlight has been on Asian countries for this modern day slavery. Due to some success in combating the problem in those countries, supply for internationally trafficked slaves has now shifted to Latin America with Mexico and Central America as key players in providing the U.S. with enslaved prostitutes. Impoverished women lured with the promise of a better life, end up being treated as sexual slaves to enrich the individuals who torture them. But all the trafficking does not start abroad. U.S. children, some as young as nine, with an average starting age of 12-14 years according to the Polaris Project, are involved in sexual slavery.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 90 percent of trafficked individuals are female. The causes of the problem are many and they include extreme poverty, abusive or unstable home life, the seemingly insatiable need for sexual servitude, and greed on the part of the traffickers. For the victims, escaping from a life of constant abuse is almost impossible and due to the illegal nature of this “business” the victims are difficult to track and often end up dead after several years of rape, threats and torture.
It is impossible to overestimate the scope and seriousness of this problem. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost to degradation and squalor seems an insurmountable obstacle. The accounts are gruesome, maddeningly, infuriatingly, sad. But everyone can do something to call attention to this horror, to stop the plight of innocent victims. Please visit the Polaris Project, the International Justice Mission or Children of the Night to find ways to get involved and help end this nightmare.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.