I just got sick to my stomach. It wasn't because there was something wrong with the bagel and coffee breakfast I had this morning while sitting in my perfectly air-conditioned cocoon of an office while browsing my facebook, and checking my email. It was because I clicked on a link which, as it turns out, was a portal into a world little known to me and even less acknowledged by those around me. The world of under-age sex trafficking, especially as it pertains to Indian cities. The bagel inside my belly churned as I clicked from one article to another outlining stories about girls as young as 10 years of age being raped, kidnapped or sold into prostitution, some even 'imported' from other countries just to cater to the desires of grown men.
Horrified as I was as I read the stories of these young girls who have lost their innocence in the worst possible way, I also wondered about the adults who partake in this process everyday. It is obvious to see that these young girls are the victims in these scenarios; girls who have gone from playing with dolls and puppets to becoming the dolls and puppets of every man who can afford to desire them behind closed doors in brothels. However, I wonder if at a higher level, these men (and grown women) are also victims of something. After all, we've all been taught to hate the game, not the player right?
Almost instantly, I am tempted to blame society because in the end, humans are social creatures and our behaviors are heavily defined by the cultural norms in our society. Obviously, no society condones the rape of a child but do the various schemas we develop during our exposure to society's norms somehow lead to it? Is it too much of a stretch to think that a society where an individual's sexual desires are meant to be underplayed in public, where the patriarchal ego status trumps all other positive traits/virtues in an individual, and where the socio-economic divide is a chasm wide enough to justify throwing a homeless person under a bus without any consequences, might provide an interplay of ideologies that justify these actions? In essence, is it that hard to understand why an average-aged male with an average income and an averagely suppressed libido might turn to an average brothel to find (average?) satisfaction? Hopefully not.
If you are with me so far, then consider this next thought- what would keep such a man from wanting to 'up' his satisfaction if he were to become above-average in the mentioned aspects of his life. What if he was an above-average-aged man with an above-average income and an above-averagely suppressed libido. The only step up (or down I suppose depending on where you stand) from deriving pleasure from visits to a prostitute could likely be the introduction of the novelty of a child prostitute. Is your brain twisted much from all this thinking? Mine sure is! Nevertheless, this need for contortion of my brain to understand this possible way of thinking lead me to another possible cause of these behaviors.
Could it be possible that these grown men are victims of their own brains? Once again, it certainly isn't too far from the known facts of sexual disorders- the need to derive pleasure is so great that it surpasses the logical, norm-oriented thought processes of the brain. I hesitate to associate this increasing demand for under-aged sex workers with Pedophilia because Pedophiles are typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children. From the articles I've read today, this interest in younger prostitutes is more because of a 'fresh-fresher-freshest-meat' way of thinking as opposed to a desire for children alone. This ideology is consistent with the simple demand and supply process most of us cater to- we want the best our money can buy. The more the money, the better our expectations (demand characteristics). The better our expectation, the more lucrative the sale (supply incentives).
It is both, eye-opening and disgusting, that the horrific act of sexual pandering of young children can potentially be understood at such a simple level. Eye-opening because it enables us to see why someone would be drawn towards something so wrong, and disgusting because it makes us realize how easy it is to justify (but not condone) the most terrible of acts. Makes one wonder how our own thought-process intermingle to justify our own seemingly bizarre actions huh?
Self reflections aside, the point of this article is to create awareness of the need to spread the word and understand the importance of providing avenues for mental therapy. There are only so many young girls who can be traced down, pried away from the claws of sexual predators and returned to their families. More effort needs to be put into rehabilitating the thoughts of men who are drawn to these helpless victims. Supply ceases when the demand does. So its time to help create a society where misgivings in our sexual desires and thoughts are open to discussion instead of being shunned into silence due to archaic norms. Speak up, reach out, be tolerant and help save another life (whether on the demand or supply side) from falling victim to sex trafficking.