January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York joined 29 Jewish organizations around the country to issue a statement of guiding values on ending human trafficking—also known as modern-day slavery—throughout the U.S. and abroad.
For the final eight days of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month we invite you to read our series of blog posts highlighting each of the Jewish values included in the statement and how they motivate us to work toward the end of slavery and human trafficking.
Value 7: We must dismantle our culture of sexual violence and objectification.
Sex trafficking happens in the context of our society. Too often, we are willing to accept messages and behaviors that reinforce sexual violence and objectification. Ending sexual exploitation will require culture change in our homes and communities.
by Rachel Siegel
Ending sexual exploitation will require a cultural change. We live in a society of rape culture, one in which victims are blamed and sexual violence and harassment has become normalized. Our culture emits conscious and unconscious messages about choice, gender, and power. Victims of sexual violence are not adequately supported and perpetrators are rarely prosecuted. Women are asked what they were wearing and if they enjoyed it. In her “Rape Poem,” Marge Piercy writes “There is no difference between being raped/And being run over by a truck/Except that afterward men ask if you enjoyed it.”
On December 5, 2016, the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York held an event “Shifting the Paradigm from Rape Culture to Consent Culture.” Our speakers stressed the need for our society to stop blaming the victim, reject the sexualization of bodies, and utilize affirmative consent. We must train officials, speak up for victims, and talk to boys about their words and actions. We must listen to survivors’ stories, advocate for resources to support them, and refuse to be bystanders.
Sex trafficking happens in the context of our society. We must change our society in order to prevent its perpetuation.
The video from the event “Shifting the Paradigm from Rape Culture to Consent Culture” is below: