We often get only one side of the story. When we hear about sexual slavery or trafficking, we hear about the “third world” countries these women and men come from, the brutal conditions they lived in, and the corruption, poverty and lack of social institutions that basically force them into a life of slavery. What we don’t hear about are the people who make up the market: the (usually) rich, First World men, who consume these slaves and who constitute the market that makes sexual slavery and trafficking possible. To end sexual slavery, shouldn’t we also target the people who consume it and therefore make it possible?
It’s the same thing with drugs. We keep hearing about the drug problems, cartels, gangs etc in Latin America. But who is consuming most of these drugs? Yes, Americans. Would this many drug cartels exist if the market for drugs wasn’t so big? So instead of only focusing on the origin of drugs or sex slaves, maybe people should try and EDUCATE the people consuming these “commodities.”
I recently finished reading one of the most amazing books ever, called “Encountering Development: The Making & Unmaking of the Third World’ by Arturo Escobar. He gave a poignant example at the end of the book:
Under the title “The Lesson that Rio Forgets,” the cover of the Economist shows an undifferentiated mass of dark people, the “teaming masses” of the Third World. The “lesson” is population: the expanding masses of the Third World have to be curbed if sustainable development is to be achieved.
The fact that the populations of the industrialized world consume a strikingly higher percentage of world resources than their Third World counterparts does not enter into the Economist’s equation.
By a curious optical twist, the consumption of people of the North is rendered invisible, whereas the dark hordes of the South are consigned to a new round of gluttonous vision.
I have never thought about it this way. While countries like Egypt are constantly being told to “control their populations” because the world is suffering, people in tiny developed countries continue to consume MUCH MORE. How is that logical?
The problem is we are usually told ONE side of the story, where the Third World is somehow blamed for everything. And even more disappointing is how many First World and Third World people fall for this ridiculous narrative.