IS THIS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON
IN THE FIGHT AGAINST TRAFFICKING?
"We’re not your pet project or your frail, delicate, sadface victims, kk. If you want to hold a funeral for our poor lost virginity, please go ahead."
The above quote comes from an important post on tumblr by Jacobinesque - a trafficking survivor - on what she sees as the failures of the anti-trafficking movement.
It is a “must read” for anyone interested in building a coherent movement. (Warning: the post contains strong language and stronger opinions. Those offended by either should be forewarned - but they should read it anyway because it is that important.)
In this missive (and follow up posts/discussions with fellow survivor blogger fou-a-lier), she tackles topics worthy of deep reflection.
She takes great issue with grandiose statements that we can “end slavery in our lifetime”, suggesting that it is too entrenched - and that stating it can simply be “done away with” trivializes what survivors have been through.
On the role of religion in the movement, Jacobinesque contends it should be kept private. Many survivors may not hold the same religious beliefs, and they may feel judged by some of those out to “save them”. Some survivors have even seen religion used by their abusers to justify what was done to them - for these people, careless discussion of religion has potentially harmful psychological consequences.
And she is particularly hard hitting when it comes to the issue of discussing how survivors should relate to their own pasts:
"Also please let me know when I am ~sad enough~ for you, I need to know when I am a good enough victim and will finally meet your standards of the Saddest Trafficking Survivor (TM). Please tell me how to respond to my own trauma and what’s appropriate or not. Thanks!"
Now there will be much for anti-trafficking activists to agree and disagree with - whether they are survivors themselves or not. For my own part, I maintain that “abolishing trafficking” remains both feasible and crucial to aim for - but I would not ever kid myself that it is easy, nor even likely.
Activism - any activism - requires selling a narrative. If MLK had said “His Dream” was to end segregation, but maintain a world where systemic racism and institutionalized inequality remain pernicious, I doubt many would have signed on.
And yet that is where we find ourselves today.
So too, we anti-trafficking activists must aim big. But we must never forget to simultaneously focus MASSIVE EFFORTS on mitigating the damage being done today.
While debate will continue, I’ll leave the last words to Jacobinesque’s ally-in-words, fou-a-lier - on what we must all learn to do more, more often, and more effectively.
And that’s listen:
"If what’s bothering you is why she’s reacting so “angrily,” I’ll tell you why: because you all are going ahead and trying to “rescue” human trafficking victims without once asking them what they think they need, what they want, what was actually important to them about their experiences. And when you do, it dehumanizes them, which believe me, we’ve had enough of already. Your savior complex is only harming us."
Photo: Stephen Dann/Creative Commons