When I worked for the Korean government, I was involved with the research of legalizing prostitution. Many Korean people still argue that legalizing prostitution will solve the existing problems within the sex industry. They believe that a woman should have the right to sell her body if she wishes to do so like Germany and Netherlands. But prostitution is a mask for human trafficking. The two are essentially one. If prostitution is legalized, the mask becomes thicker, and it will be able to morph into a number of different faces. Stats from countries with legalized or regulated prostitution such as Germany, Colombia, or the Netherlands have shown that human trafficking, especially of minors, has increased dramatically. The reason why prostitution can be identifiable with human trafficking is that most prostitutes who enter willingly or fight for the right to sell their bodies are so influenced, controlled, and overpowered by their pimps that they cannot leave the industry when they want to. Whether it is through mental control and brainwashing or through physical violence, these prostitutes are enslaved and kept in bondage. Most people associate bondage with a mental image of a person in chains somewhere in a dark room. This is of course the case with many, but in many cases, this is not the only type of bondage and enslavement. Many women believe that they are selling their bodies when in fact they are selling parts of their souls. They think they’re in control when they are not. Many enter voluntarily or are tricked into working and the majority cannot leave and live the lives they want to. Everything inside a human that is vital to leading a decent life in society diminishes and eventually becomes obsolete. Those who are rescued or escape from it will be internally affected for the rest of their lives. Most never come out in public, choosing to keep their stories hidden, sometimes even from their own families and husbands. Traffickers would love legalization as they would be able to hide the girls they trafficker much easier.
By Julie Lim February 28, 2014