The fear and presence of sexual exploitation, while much diminished, is still an atrocity that haunts populations of the world today. In the “Classic Slave Narratives”, the looming fear of sexual exploitation (among other brutalities) leads one female character to such great lengths as to hide out in an attic for seven years.
To further elaborate, Harriet Ann Jacobs, or Linda Brent (her pseudonym in her narrative), spend six years and eleven months in a crawl space that was “just enough room to bring [her] hands to [her] face to keep the dust out of [her] eyes” in order to avoid submitting sexually to her master Dr. Flint (the pseudonym for Dr. James Norcom)(515) In addition, she had to bear the heat of summer and the frigid winters all whilst observing her children (who are convinced that she has fled to the north). While it is true that the fear of sexual exploitation was not the sole driving force behind her motivation to hide herself, it is obvious in her fear of Dr. Flint that it has a significant impact. In fact, his voice alone is cited to chill her blood (515) Her extreme act does not outline the overwhelming effects of sexual exploitation.
It is an important to understand that during this time of slaverly in the United States, the sexual exploitation of slaves was sadly enough, somewhat expected from slaves; especially female slaves. Many slave masters expected affection from their female slaves and in many instances, slave owners would impregnate enslaved women for the sole purpose of birthing new workhands who could work on the fields once they reached age. Slave women were dehumanized to the point of being labeled “animated tools” or “instruments of pleasure.”(1)
Now, fast-forward to today’s modern life. While cases of domestic violence still run rampant, the extreme (I say this with caution) enslavement, dehumanization and mistreatment of women is, comparatively, mostly absent in the United States. However, seeing as the United States is a small portion of our global community, there is still evidence of this extreme enslavement, dehumanization and mistreatment of women: In particular, in the Middle East. Syria is known as a “destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation” (2) Women are exploited by gangs and criminal organizations. They are stripped of their passports and identifications in order to trap them in the industry.
One criminal organization that has gained a lot of attention in the headlines is ISIS. While ISIS is primarily know for its terrorists acts, (A list of all the attacks can be seen here (Click here a list of ISIS related terrorist attacks) they are also linked to the exhibition of sex slaves and captives. According to the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, at the low end of the slave trade, “captive women are given prices ranging between $500 and $2,000 each. These women are sold at casual markets to IS militants and pedistrians alike who claim “Jihad marriage” for justification (3). According to a web article, over “7,000 young women and children have been kidnapped from their homes and sold into in a chilling new moneymaking operation by Islamic State Leaders. The state in which these women are treated is barbaric as seen in this video clip (click here for video).
The thought that enslavement, dehumanization and mistreatement of women was mostly curbed is false. In many parts of the world, women are stripped of their human rights and sold into a life of slavery and abuse.