When I tell people I’ve been working to combat human trafficking, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Are voluntary sex industry workers victims as well?” They always seem to emphasize the fact that so many women do it out of greed because they’re in it for the money, and they’re not in chains tied up somewhere against their own will. This is most likely because many women, who are attractive and sometimes educated, truly have opted to work as call girls, prostitutes, or hostesses in the sex industry. Yes, it is correct to say that some of them voluntarily enter this world with hopes that they will be able to lead a glamorous, wealthy life and buy a nice Chanel or Louis Vuitton purse every week. During my fellowship in San Francisco, I realized that not only does this occur amongst Koreans, it happens within many different communities around the world as well, including U.S and Canada. Of course, this is not to say that all the Korean women in the industry opt to do so for these reasons. Most of the time, this does not pertain to the women in the sex industry. In many cases, women who enter voluntarily, do so believing that it is simply a decent way for unskilled female workers to earn a living.
Just because a woman enters it for whatever ludicrous, selfish, or personal reason they may have, they are still victimized in several ways. According to the gkim’s article, first off, the industry itself is a victimizing industry. Rape and different types of sexual violation are common occurrences in the sex industry. Many women who enter voluntarily are not fully aware of this or do not think that it will happen to them. If there were a 100% chance that these women would be raped, and they were fully aware of this, their greed for money would not be able to override the fact of rape. Secondly, although one may enter voluntarily, most cannot leave when they want to. This cannot be considered a voluntary position if one is not allowed to come and go as they please. Most are coerced through debt accruals, forced drug usage, public shame, threats of violence, family shame, and despair. The majority of the actual traffickers who coerce these women manipulate them using a variety of methods. There are so many streetwalking prostitutes who have chances to run away but do not. This is the influence and mind-control a trafficker or brothel owner can have on a woman. A woman is a commodity that can be sold over and over again to them. Trafficking women and selling them is financial security for criminals because unlike drugs, a human being does not become obsolete after one sale. Of course, the problem here is that human beings should never be for sale.