The lure of the forbidden is a powerful force in travel. When you find yourself in a new place, surrounded by faces you’ve never seen before, faces so much unlike your own, personal identity somehow gets lost in the swirling ‘otherness’ around you. It’s kind of like perception/understanding vertigo. When we travel we can be anyone we want to be.
Our traveling selves are not our stagnant selves. We are more apt to try new things, expand our horizons, dive into sometimes hazy and circumspect situations. We are emboldened when we travel, no longer restrained by what our co-workers or neighbors or family might think. Thousands of miles away, they will only have the pictures to draw from.
It’s odd how the romanticized, antiquated images that all of us carry about the rest of the world somehow transform themselves into a quasi-reality that exists only on the collective will of those who hold it dear. Somehow the luxuriant opium dens and exotic, often forbidden beauty of the Far East have reemerged in the modern world—only now it’s a land of cheap drugs and cheaper sex.
The Thai sex trade draws millions of tourists a year. How some of the worst forms of exploitation and subjugation can turn into a tourist juggernaut is beyond me, but every year men find themselves wandering the streets of Bangkok or Saigon with a pocket full of money and thinly veiled aspirations.
Suddenly the man who works in a nondescript cubicle in some nondescript office in one of any millions of cookie-cutter towns across the Western world can be the Marco Polo of his wildest dreams.
And somehow this practice, this industry of forcing women into the sex trade (Not to mention the wide spread practice of shoving as many drugs as is possible into the veins and down the throats of unsuspecting foreigners) is a booming industry. It’s the backbone of tourism in parts of SE Asia! For there to be any real change, the whole tourist economy in SE Asia has to change, to evolve. That’s where the rest of us come in.
It’s sad that the knee jerk reaction when faced with such immense beauty and wonder that exists in these places is the desire to have sex with it, consequences be damned. When in Rome, right? It’s a real and prevalent problem. But it’s up to the rest of us– the moral and just–those who actually have a voice within society, to stand up against such oppression. Particularly because the vast majority of these women will be born, be used, and die without so much as a whimper.
In an age when ‘world citizen’ is seen as the ultimate transcendent social goal to one day achieve, we need to stop just proclaiming our love for the world and all things within it, but we need to do something about the plights which haunt us. We must prove that our jaunts around the world are not in vain.
Contact your local state representative. Or better yet, visit www.UN.org or www.humantrafficking.org. The best option is to visit Thailand and witness firsthand the beauty and heartbreak there. Be shocked and appalled that the collective wills of millions of baboons that visit there every year with the explicit purpose of getting high and having sex upholds this incredibly oppressive practice. The more people who are aware and disgusted by this practice, the more momentum the fight gets.