“Special Evil” Bush vs. slavery. By Donna M. Hughes

“Abolitionist” and alleged anti trafficking activist Donna Hughes, one of the “visionaries” behind Trafficking Victim’s Protection Re-Authorization Act discusses President Bush’s war on slavery and terrorism.

What do those impacted by Hughes Expertise and Work feel? Views from those impacted by TVPRA

Special Evil”
Bush vs. slavery.

By Donna M. Hughes

At the United Nations, before key world leaders and an international body that symbolizes human rights, President Bush put the fight against the global sex trade on par with the campaign for democracy in Iraq and the war on terrorism. A significant portion of his U.N. speech was dedicated to a “humanitarian crisis…yet hidden from view,” by which he meant the trafficking and prostitution of hundreds of thousands of women and children. In keeping with Bush’s speeches on threats to freedom and democracy in the world, there were no qualifiers or exceptions; he boldly named this activity for what it is: “a special evil.” And as he has done with terrorism, he challenged governments around the world on their complacency: If they tolerate the sex trade, they “are tolerating a form of slavery.” This is the kind of clarity of thinking and leadership the movement against trafficking and sexual exploitation has been waiting for.

<> And he did not stop there. He firmly stated his position on one of the most-avoided questions in the debate on the global sex trade — how to respond to the men who patronize the brothels and create the demand for women and girls. President Bush clearly said, “Those who patronize this industry debase themselves and deepen the misery of others.” One sentence that so simply places responsibility on those who need to be held accountable for the harm they cause to women, children, their families, and communities.In those few minutes, he addressed crucial issues and provided leadership on some of the key battlefronts.

Men who sexually abuse and exploit children often travel to other countries to find victims and avoid arrest. For over six years, ECPAT-USA (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) has campaigned with limited success to get the tourist industry and airlines to advise travelers that if they have sex with children while abroad they are breaking the law. At the U.N., President Bush urged all governments to “inform travelers of the harm this industry does and the severe punishments that will fall on its patrons.” And for several years ECPAT-USA has frequently contacted the U.S. military in an effort to get them to be more active in stopping military personnel from sexually abusing and exploiting children while they are abroad. With the passage of the PROTECT Act and President Bush’s high-priority call for action against perpetrators abroad, activists should finally see results from their efforts.

President Bush pledged $50 million to support “the good work of organizations that are rescuing women and children from exploitation, and giving them shelter and medical treatment and the hope of a new life.” President Bush’s support for these organizations is particularly important, not only because the funds will provide much-needed services, but also because Christian and feminist organizations who organize rescues and provide shelter for victims in Asia are under attack from pro-prostitution groups who constantly criticize them and try to undermine their rescue work. Those who favor legalized prostitution know that if victims are free to speak their own truth the stories they tell about “empowered sex workers” will be proven to be lies.

There could not have been a better place than the United Nations to call for “clear standards” on combating the global sex trade. Over the past decade, United Nations’ commissions, committees, and conferences have been battlegrounds where governments and nongovernmental organizations have fought to determine if the global sex trade should be legitimized and legalized or criminalized and abolished. President Bush told the members of the United Nations that the U.S. now has clear standards on how the global sex trade should be viewed — “an underground of brutality and lonely fear” — and combated — “those who create these victims and profit from their suffering must be severely punished.”

The people and groups I work with call themselves the new abolitionists. We believe that all people have the right to freedom and dignity and no forms of sexual abuse and exploitation, including those of the sex trade, should be tolerated. All the activists I’ve heard from were thrilled and inspired by President Bush’s speech. One woman said this is going to “put new wind in the sails of the abolitionist movement.” Another said, “That was the most courageous thing I have heard a president say since President Reagan’s demand to ‘tear down this wall’ in Berlin.”

What do those impacted by Hughes Expertise and Work feel? Views from those impacted by TVPRADonna M. Hughes is professor & Carlson Endowed Chair in Women’s Studies at the University of Rhode Island.

5 Responses

  1. […] on March 9, 2008. “Special Evil” Bush vs. slavery. By Donna M. Hughes Posted on March 9, 2008 by jillbrenneman | […]

  2. The fifth anniversay of the war and occupation of Iraq is March 19th. Hope to see all of you out in the street. Good to have you back, Jill and thank you for posting this.

  3. There was just an article I think in Newsweek which talked about Latin America’s “troublesome” shift to the left. From the Bush, Hughes viewpoints, they free the slaves and peons of the world give them democracy to choose their leadership and what happens? Latin Americans vote for the “wrong” candidates and tilt left and the damn enslaved sex workers don’t see Donna, Bush or their cohorts as saviors either. Gee, we want to determine our own path. Not be guided along as children.

    I can’t imagine why the Bush Administration’s policies on terrorism, on latin america, on human trafficking don’t work. If only everyone would just be thankful the US and great leaders like Bush and Hughes gave us choices and we used those choices to choose them and their policies.

  4. An amusing aside re Donna Hughes. In the manuscript of a not-yet-published book, I railed against The Pledge, as follows:

    The loyalty oath is based on the belief, no, the absolute conviction, that anything that improves work conditions for prostitutes serves only to bind them into slavery. The High Priestess of this view is a dumpy US academic named Donna Hughes, who pontificates on the evils of commercial sex from every available pulpit. In an op-ed piece titled “Aiding and Abetting the Slave Trade”, she railed at a programme that taught Cambodian sex workers to negotiate condom use with their clients. The programme was part of a national effort that sent new HIV infections in Cambodia crashing to fewer than 6,000 a year by 2005, from over 42,000 a decade earlier. But it was wicked. “The Bush administration needs to …shut down unethical “interventions” with women and girls in brothels. Those who lack the moral capacity to know that slaves need freedom should never get funding again,” preached Hughes.”

    I go on to discuss the impact of abolitionists and of The Pledge on sex workers in Cambodia, ending the section:

    “By the end of 2005, fewer than 1,000 women had ever been successfully rescued from prostitution in Cambodia. A nationwide campaign to make sure guys used condoms when they bought sex had saved an estimated 970,000 Cambodians from HIV infections by the same date. Yet freeing slaves is “moral” and promoting condoms is “unethical”.
    I went to Sunday School as a child, and I still go to church every now and then. But I am completely unable to understand religious convictions or moral ideologies that that stand in the way of saving hundreds of thousands of lives.”

    The reaction of my publisher’s lawyers? “Please state whether this is an accurate summary of the views expressed by Hughes in the article and elsewhere.”

    I hope I can rely on BNG readers to back me up?

  5. Of course we’d be happy to help you in anyway possible, Your critical thinking on this issue, especially for a woman, is breath of fresh air.
    My response to your publisher’s lawyers would be, ‘why are you, the publishers lawyers, promoting what donna Hughes has to say over actual sex industry workers?’

    The answer is that she is the actual slave owner by promoting the idea that keeping workers away from the center of our own right to be self determined and unprotected os best for us.
    And they, the publisher’s lawyers, are promoting her position as slave owner by raising barriers in the editorial bedroom, and now they become a party to the slave owners position and in fact, are now slave owners themselves.

    Your publisher’s lawyers actions of raising false barriers for you to jump threw like you are their little monkey girl, is closet whoremonger behavior like the almost former New York Gov.
    I know you just want to be a journalist, but now you will have to engage in political organizing just to get published.
    Welcome to our world.

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