Shelby Hettenbach

Research Associate

Women Are Not Property, So Why Are We Selling Them?

Human Trafficking, Sexual Slavery, Prostitution

Every year, thousands of women and children are sold into sexual slavery, also known as human trafficking. When people think of human trafficking they often think that it’s like the movie Taken; there is a mistaken assumption that sexual slavery only happens overseas and that the victims are snached off of the street from their families. This is not the case. A majority of sexual slaves are prostitutes.  

The reality is that every prostitute on the street is a sex slave. They have been manipulated and coerced into selling their bodies, often for the profit of their pimp. Predators use methods such as “minimization and denial of physical violence, economic exploitation, social isolation, verbal abuse, threats and intimidation, physical violence, sexual assault, and captivity” to manipulate women and children into sexual slavery. Those who are not under the control of a pimp are often backed into prostitution by economic necessity, drug addiction, or mental health issues. These women have been forced into sexual slavery not necessarily by another human being, but by both internal and external circumstances out of their control.

Hey UN! Where Are All the Women?

As of February this year, less than 4% of all UN peacekeepers are women. Currently there are 105,314 troops, police and military personnel that encompass the UN peacekeeping force, and only 4,268 of that total are women. Why are there so few female peacekeepers?

Perhaps the most reasonable and logical explanation is,

Peacekeepers are soldiers from countries that commit troops to the UN mission, so it is ultimately the discretion of the member countriesand the percentage of women in national armies—that filter up to the mission."

Women are not trained in military professions as frequently as men in most countries in the world. Therefore, each country is producing less qualified women than men; obviously, this affects the potential pool of troops. Another (somewhat sexist) possibility that has been argued is that women are simply not willing to work in the rough conditions faced by UN peacekeepers.

Regardless of the reason, it is clear that there is a problem. The UN must increase the number of women in their peacekeeping forces if they hope to succeed.

Kerry Deems Actions of ISIS Genocide

Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Thursday that ISIS (also known as Daesh) has been committing genocide against religious minorities in the Middle East. This announcement marks the second time in United States history that the executive branch has used the term “genocide” in reference to a current conflict, the first instance being Darfur in 2004.

The announcement was made after the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution by a unanimous vote condemning ISIS atrocities as genocide. The statement was made in response to a deadline Congress set last year  for the Obama Administration to determine whether the targeting of minority religious and ethnic groups by ISIS could be defined as genocide.

During a news conference at the State Department, Kerry said, "My purpose here today is to assert in my judgment, Daesh is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shiite Muslims." He went on to detail the atrocities committed against each of the aforementioned groups, the entirety of which can be seen here.  After listing the crimes he added,

Naming these crimes is important. But what is essential is to stop them. That will require unity in this country and within the countries directly involved, and the determination to act against genocide, against ethnic cleansing, against the other crimes against humanity must be pronounced among decent people all across the globe.”