...by Timea Eva Nagy
We have the honor of sharing a guest post written by Timea Eva Nagy. Timea is the Founder of Walk With Me, a Canadian Organization, based in Ontario, Helping Human Trafficked Victims and Law Enforcement.
She addresses the misconception and ongoing debate regarding trafficked victims v. willing prostitutes.
“The difference between the two is only a matter of degree,” says Timea.
Read her full post now:
To whom it may concern! Please see my final words on the Prostitution debate: I am a survivor of Sex Trafficking, founder and front line worker for Walk With Me, an organization that has been working 24/7 on the ground with victims of sex slavery for the last 4 years here in Canada. My name is Timea Nagy. For over a year now I have been listening to both side of the argument about Prostitution. For a time I thought that we could stand aside of this argument because trafficking and prostitution were different, but I realize now that that is not so. The difference between the two is only a matter of degree.
I originally entered the sex industry when I was forced into it by traffickers, and sometime after my rescue I went back to the business for a few months, responding to a huge financial crisis. I already knew what I got myself into, and I voluntarily returned. But my “choice” to prostitute myself rose out of the lack of any other option. With no money, no access to social programs, no employable skills, and enormous debt, I did what I had to, to not become homeless, and to be able to buy food.
In the media these days, we hear the voices of women who are sex workers, who demand that their human rights be respected in their choice of work. Those women, though, represent a small percent of women in prostitution. Studies estimate the number of women voluntarily making an informed choice to do sex work as between 1% and 10% of women In a research study of 875 prostituted people in 9 countries, 89% said that they wanted to escape prostitution (Melissa Farley, 2003) and that number was 95% in Canada. I speak for the other 90% of prostituted women and men– whose voices are not largely being heard in this debate – precisely because their voices have been taken away by that experience in prostitution.
I speak for the 65-95% of women in the sex trade, based on numerous studies, who were sexually molested or assaulted as children. I was sexually molested between the ages of 12 and 17. That background sets us up to be abused again.
I speak for the 70-95% of people who were physically assaulted while in sex work. Research suggested that 75% of Canadian women interviewed had sustained lasting physical injuries from violence and 50% had brain injuries. I speak for the 60 plus% of victims who suffer post-traumatic stress that is as severe as that experienced by combat veterans and refugees from torture. Fourteen years later, I still carry physical and emotional scars from my experience.
I speak for the hundreds of Canadian girls that I have met and talked to and rescued in the last four years, who have been, and continue to be raped, violated, and exploited against their will
First of all, prostitution is NOT a profession. It’s oppression. 90% of the time. It’s the only job in the WORLD, were you go to work, and every day there is a chance that you could be killed or hurt by your ‘EMPLOYER”, (The Johns or the Pimps). The dangers inherent in sex work are well documented in the research. It targets the young – half of women enter prostitution before they are 18, the uneducated, the vulnerable (native women are vastly over-represented in prostitution). Prostitution always involves a power imbalance between a customer who pays to have their pleasure met, and a person who is hired to act like a sex puppet. Prostitution is rarely, if ever, about two consenting adults choosing to have sex.
I speak for the vast majority of people in the sex trade for whom this is not a freely made choice among many choices, but for whom it is indeed an issue of human rights. Rights of liberty, equality, dignity, safety, all of which are being ripped from us daily.
There does not appear to be a perfect answer in this debate. The rights of some will be curtailed to support the rights of others. Sometimes that is what the law is forced to do. But it seems to me, to us, that the vast majority of people in the sex industry have been shown to be there as the result of poverty, oppression, and exploitation. The only way they can be protected is by abolishing prostitution. The proposed law attempts to do that. The only way that they can be encouraged to seek help is by decriminalizing their part in prostitution and by creating an environment of safety and support that gives them viable exit options. This legislation attempts to do that.
There are two groups of people impacted most by this legislation. Pro-prostitution advocates speak loudly and with resources behind them. But that other voice, of those trapped and tortured, needs to be heard as well. And they deserve to be protected by this country.
Trafficked men and women, and those others who would rather do something else if they had a viable choice (90% according to Lisa Kramer, 2003) don’t have the same voice. We need the government of Canada to be that voice for them.
We can honor Timea, and all victims in America, Canada, and around the world by simply being a voice. Her post is meant to be shared, and should be shared as many times as possible.