In Defense of Dignity
The Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom,justice and peace in the world.
The word "dignity" is mentioned five times in the UDHR. it is an important word that is most often defined by its abuse of it. For example, human trafficking, in all of its insidious forms, turns any positive meaning of dignity upside down.
The primary focus of Violence is Power Over another person, place or resources. In human trafficking, violence is the tool used to keep the "slaves" in line.
Let's address this issue of dignity in the area of sex slavery in human trafficking. For the traffickers and pimps the goal is money, pure and simple, at the loss of dignity of the sex slave. When a person is forced to lose his/her dignity, their sense of self-worth plummets into the depths of despair and hopelessness. Depression, post traumatic stress, sexual transmitted diseases and abject fear are only a few of the many side effects of the sex slave who has lost her dignity.
What dignity do the perpetrators of this travesty of human trafficking possess? When they exert their violent Power Over others without concern or compassion, what does that say about their own inherent sense of dignity? Did they willingly sell their dignity to that piece of paper that represents currency? Money is nothing more than paper that we give meaning to. In this perspective, how many lives around the world are lost, stolen and distorted by a piece of paper? Is not one's personal dignity lost then by both the trafficker/pimp and the slave?
Then there is the "john" or the man that uses the sex slave. Where is his dignity? What is he looking for? Does his meaning of money indicate that he has the power to buy his Power Over for fifteen minutes at the expense of another? Is he looking for a quick fix for his sexual dysfunction? Does he like himself so little that he feels he has to pay for a few minutes of intimacy? Did he just willingly pay to surrender his own dignity?
Now we have all three major players in human trafficking operating without their human right to personal dignity.
UDHR - Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
What is the key here to restoring personal dignity? Is the answer more violence? (Personally I feel that violence is a highly overrated problem solving technique.) Is it education? Is it more family counseling? More hugs? Perhaps if each and every one of us were to live within our own inherent, personal stance of dignity, we could be beacons of "dignity light" to all potential slaves, traffickers and johns before they turn away fro their own dignity. What do you think?
K-lee Starland "The Audacious Ladies of La Gran Sorellanza" (a novel about human trafficking)