26 September 2013

Human Trafficking, the Red Light District, Christians and me

Lately, there's been a lot of discussion in the Netherlands about human trafficking as being intimately connected with prostitution, including and especially in places like the Red Light District. For example, the political party I support, ChristenUnie, just participated in hosting a joint conference called, Een andere kijk op Prostitutie, (an other way of looking at prostitution).

I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure of what to make of the discussion, which even I find to be a strange reaction. I am, after all, against human trafficking. What Christian, or non-Christian for that matter, isn't against human trafficking?!? I have read numerous stories and news articles verifying both how real and how horrible trafficking is for those who are victims. I also believe that there are women in the Red Light District who have been pressured against their will to prostitute themselves, which I find deeply troubling, even more so as these are my physical neighbours. Furthermore, I'm against prostitution. As a Christian, I don't believe that prostitution is part of God's good intentions for sex, relationships, or how human beings ought to be treated.

So why is it that I feel so uncomfortable with the discussions about human trafficking and its link to prostitution?

Because it feels a bit like we're focusing on the wrong thing. It's not that human trafficking isn't horrible and evil, it's just there's so much more pain, evil, sadness, messiness and wrong involved in prostitution that has little to do with human trafficking. We have been, through talking about trafficking and not prostitution, avoiding asking difficult questions and having difficult conversations.

The best analogy I can think of is how Pope Francis has been in the news about how he isn't so hard-nosed about abortion or homosexuality. It's not that he isn't against abortion, it's just that in a world where there is so much messiness and sin, the message of abortion isn't what the world needs to hear. And when I think of those working in prostitution, I wonder if the focus on human trafficking hasn't been distracting us from the real message, that of proclaiming love and grace and human worth.

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