The culture of 'Johns' and sex trafficking in the U.S. military base and war zones

The United States government has been in the forefront of fight against human trafficking around the world. For this reason, our State Department produced annual reports on human trafficking in Person around the world and impose sanctions against the countries who fail to comply to its minimum standards to fight against human trafficking in their own soils. However, the United States also has been the very reason why sex trafficking and prostitution have thrived in war zones around the world. A few days ago, Center for Public Integrity stated on an article that “despite allegations, none of the U.S. military personnels and defense contractors was prosecuted for war zone sex trafficking.” Though President Bush implemented zero-toleration policy towards sex trafficking in war zones eight years ago, many experts say that the allegations have never been seriously prosecuted nor investigated on behalf of the victims. However, the justice department, though declined to comment on more detailed investigations, claimed that the authority investigates credible allegations.

A few examples of sex trafficking incidents

In Iraq, one former guard testified that he has witnessed subcontractors and the U.S. soldiers paying Iraqi girls for sex acts. When the allegation was surfaced in a federal lawsuit filed last summer, the victims’ families withdrew the detailed statement of the allegation and “agreed to settlement in January.” In Afghanistan, 90 Chinese women were rescued after the brothel raid in 2007. These women testified to the representative of International Migrant Organization that their clients are mostly Western men. One former ArmorCorp supervisor also said that one manager even boasted about owning a prostitute in Kabul and was “hoping to real money” off of her. He also told him that he was planning to “buy another woman for $20,000.”

Unable to enforce the law

According to the Washington post, prosecutors in justice department complained that zero-toleration policy is almost impossible to enforce because “it makes a little distinction between sex trafficking and prostitution.” Another prosecutor also anonymously stated on the report as follows:

Are we interested in chasing every contractor that gets a hooker or using our resources to go after the guys who force people into modern-day slavery?

Some experts point out that investigators would probably refuse a case if it is “time consuming and manpower-intenstive. Having 35-40 FBI agents working on sight, the investigators are busy working on fraud and corruption cases.

The John culture in the U.S. military war zones abroad

Let’s face it. Prostitution and brothel visit by the military service men and subcontractors are nothing new. Therefore neither is sex trafficking. Korean War and Vietnam War in fact evidence the embarrassing records of misconducts by some of the U.S. military personals in the past. In particular, girls from Japan and Thailand are sold as sex slaves to satisfy the sexual appetites of the U.S. service men during the Vietnam War. What’s more, one service member stationed in Japan 2006 stated that visiting massage parlors is “a rite for male sailors.” And his statement only further confirms the fact that prostitution and sex trafficking of women and children are widely accepted by the culture of the U.S. military service men long before the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. Therefore, one has to wonder lack of prosecution by the U.S. government despite of the policy against sex trafficking and prostitution in war zone may has something to do with the matter of priority rather than lack of investigative resources.

Casting the culture John from the U.S. military base and war zones

One can argue that the policy’s vague distinction between prostitution and sex slave makes it even more difficult to enforce it against the predators. But, he or she fails to see that such distinction shouldn’t be an issue if the same U.S. military johns visit prostitutes are the ones who take part in promoting sex trafficking in war zones. The government is accountable for its own personnels’ participation to the matter, not distinguishing which women consented to have sex with a service man or not. In particular, the U.S. government is the one who produces the annual report on trafficking in person, not anyone else. Consider the resources we spend annually to fight against human trafficking. If our own service men and subcontractors are the ones who actually proliferates the markets of sex slavery and prostitution, don’t you think it beats the purpose behind our own anti-human trafficking efforts?


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