Amsterdam, the European hub for prostitution and sexual services, has made a fortune on providing tourists with countless opportunities for sexual exploration. Everything from live sex shows to strips clubs to the infamous women in the windows. Ironically, the Red Light District became a temporary home for me during the summer of 2009. The streets were both full of life and excitement and also hopelessness and despair. Men briskly walked out of the rooms into the narrow cobblestone alleys after paying 50 Euros for an insatiable and unattainable satisfaction. Uneducated tourists gawked at the women and laugh at their pitiable situations. A teenage girl stopped to fix her mascara in the reflection of an occupied window never noticing the woman inside.
It is easy to see the women as bodies. As prostitutes. As purchases. As anything but complete humans full of beauty and potential. But throughout my time in Europe I listened to their stories, I heard their woes, danced salsa and sang out of tune with them. And I hate to admit that even with what I would consider a decent awareness and compassion for these women, I was still surprised at how similar they are to me. Music. Laughter. Dreams. Aspirations. They transcended our differences in lifestyles to forge unlikely friendships. Ultimately, we are the same. We are all searching for worth, value, meaning and love.
Throughout my posts, I will focus on sexual slavery, forced prostitution and trafficking. I hope to bring a very real and human aspect to an issue that oftentimes appears distant and impersonal, because yes, it is undoubtedly uncomfortable and dirty but it is happening and should no longer be ignored.