Jean Enriquez, executive director of the coalition Against Trafficking of Women Asia-Pacific, presented at the sixth installment of the Sanela Diana Jenkins International Speaker Series at Stanford’s Bechtel Center on February 21. Enriquez focused on the problem of sex trafficking in the Asia-Pacific countries, arguing that prostitution is incompatible with dignity and respect for human rights. Enriquez emphasized the importance of considering both the supply and demand side when individuals, organizations and governments address human trafficking.
“There are well-known push factors on the supply side,” noted Enriquez as she listed causes of vulnerabilities such as unemployment, poverty, lack of education and information, socialization of women and children as sexual objects, history of abuse, displacement due to natural calamities or conflict, liberalization of tourism, opening up of mining areas, conversion of agricultural lands and labor exports.
On the demand side, she suggested that militarism, pornography, cybersex and a corrupted idea of masculinity are drivers for commercial sex and sex trafficking. Enrique added that the supply and demand equation results in considerable profits. According to Enriquez, the sex industry accounts for 4.4% of Korea’s GDP, approximately the same portion as the agriculture and fishery industry.
Enriquez also highlighted the link between militarism and sex trafficking citing data collected from victims of the Burmese junta and of soldiers stationed or in passage in the bases of Okinawa and Korea.
Addressing the difficulties of enforcing accountability, she highlighted the need for a cross-border and multi-sectoral cooperation that shifts punishment from victims to “buyers” and businesses. She added that her organization, in addition to working to strengthen and support victims, also devotes special attention to sensitizing men towards the plight of women and children forced into prostitution.