I have a very distinct habit of making myself click and read things that probably aren’t always the best for my mental health; articles and stories and experiences that I will undoubtedly find triggering, information that I already know through my own experiences and yet still find myself reading regardless.
Today it was a short article written by Rachel Lloyd regarding legalisation and trafficking; there was nothing in there that I hadn’t read or thought about previously, but it left me thinking a lot, since. Some of those are things that I’ve been coming back to time after time since Amnesty voted in favour of full legalisation. Sometimes, no matter how much I try and force my mind to stay away, it finds its way drifting back to my family and to my traffickers. It’s taken a significantly long time for me to acknowledge my experiences as trafficking and there are still points where I find myself questioning; am I using the wrong words? Was any of it really rape? Does it make any difference that I was rarely moved any further than mainland Europe? Does it make any difference that my ‘traffickers’ were my family or as good as? Since Amnesty made their decision, I’ve been thinking more and more on just how amazing an opportunity this is for traffickers, eventually, I put this knowledge and my experiences together; this was not just an amazing opportunity for various traffickers worldwide, it was an amazing opportunity for my family, my traffickers.
I can’t stop myself thinking just how much they would benefit from full legalisation; their operation was large, much larger than any others in the areas. They owned a number of brothels throughout the North-West and beyond; they owned a larger piece of property that was kept very under the radar but where some of the worst horrors happened. The smaller brothels were what you’d expect; brothels with older women or girls that just about passed, small enough to rarely be bothered by the police (and in fact were often frequented by said protectors), hidden but clearly there. These are exactly the places that would benefit greatly from legislation; no more efforts put into hiding their existence, no more need to bribe police with women’s and girl’s bodies, no more need for extensive security and secrecy. My traffickers could work openly, increase their profits, increase the number of women ‘working’ for them and put less focus on maintaining their secrecy.
This would quite simply leave them free to put focus and effort into that other property, the property where I spent a significant proportion of my life. Here were the children too young to pass in the more open brothels, here were the women newly trafficked who had not yet been trained well enough for our traffickers to feel secure enough to send them to the brothels, here were the women who had been trained well enough, were able to dissociate well enough, to endure some of the worst forms of abuse and torture, here was where videos of said torture were recorded and produced, here was the place with enough secrecy and privacy for high profile ‘clients’, here was the place with enough space to hold large parties; a girl trussed up as centre piece for all to enjoy and abuse and torture, here was where the few girls and young women who had been missed and their disappearance noticed were kept, here was where they made their real money; where their ‘best girls’ were kept.
Legalisation does nothing more than push these secret, torturous places further underground. It does nothing more than provide a legitimate stream of money to further finance these worlds. It does nothing more than create a distraction and a passable front for trafficking and abuse.
Legalisation would never have made my life better; it would have made it significantly worse. Legalisation won’t make the lives of trafficked and prostituted women better; all it’ll do is legitimise their abuse and their rapes.
I know that place and the new ones opened since I was able to escape would thrive under full decriminalisation; my traffickers will get richer, more girls and women will be abducted, raped, abused and tortured for the pleasure of men. The horrors there were never going to end, decriminalisation is going to make them worse.