The past few weeks have been exciting ones for citizens of the United States of America. Confederate flags were taken down in various states and sells curtailed in retailers. A Supreme Court ruling made marriage equality the law in all the states while another ruling supported the constitutionality of Obamacare. Everybody seemed to have strong opinions on these issues.
However, I believe that these issues are mere distractions from real issues that are plaguing our country. This was brought to my attention by a former co-worker who wrote about his experience interviewing a woman who had been trafficked. He talked about how real of an issue human trafficking is and how it is harming the country.
That got me thinking.
We live in a world today that is bombarded with media messages and news outlets. So many media outlets exist that you can always find somebody who agrees with your perspective on the world. Unfortunately this has distracted us from real issues that are plaguing this country. I am not saying that the issues mentioned above are not important. Marriage equality is incredibly important (while the Confederate flag really does not matter), but it concerns me that people have such strong opinions about those topics than ones that are much more harmful to human life.
Take human trafficking for example:
We usually think of human trafficking as something that occurs in other countries, but it is alive and well here in America, specifically on trafficking for the sex industry. Some harrowing statistics should be considered:
- It is impossible to tell how many people are trafficked, but reports estimate as many as 17,500 people are trafficked in America each year, half of which are children
- Statistics estimated that 1 in 6 runaway children are sex trafficked, a number which has increased since 2013.
- National hotlines (such as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center) receive only around 3,500 calls about sex trafficking a year, showing how repressed victims are.
- Worldwide, there is a staggering amount of people forced into human trafficking: 20.9 million
- Every 30 seconds somebody in the world becomes a victim of human trafficking.
Now those are just a few statistics that are out there. Human trafficking statistics are hard to come by due to the control that is exerted by the traffickers.
In the United States we have done a lot to end human trafficking but there is more to do. Earlier this year, Congress to pass a bill to crack down on human traffickers, but was ultimately filibustered by Democrats because the Republican leadership refused to provide funds to give abortions to trafficked women. So everybody dropped the ball.
But how often have you seen outrage about this sort of issue? How many times have you seen your social media friends complaining about the declining moral values of our society due to sex slavery? How about some comments about how sex slavery attacks the family? No. Complete silence.
Or how about marital rape? This describes non-consensual sexual acts between spouses, which affects 10-14% of married women. Yet, whether this is a crime is denied by some members of the “family values” GOP, including a Mormon lawmaker from Utah, who quite frankly should know better if he has read the Family Proclamation to the World.
How about some more “family value” politicians who think that childbirth coming from rape is beautiful? Where is the outrage about rampant child abuse? Or the shockingly high statistics for sexual assault in our country? Why are we not talking about these things when we are arguing about family values?
Now I may seem to be hard on the GOP, but frankly I have really been bothered by this recently. I am all about supporting family values, but it is hard for me to support the party that talks about it so much when they seemed to be more outraged about marriage equality than any of the problems listed above, which in my mind are far more significant issues that are facing our country and world.
But I can not really blame our politicians. They have to pander to what their voting base wants. And now their voting base wants to argue about the Confederate flag and marriage equality. I understand that it is hard to think about all the issues at once, however we need to prioritize. We need to actually care.
There is a time and place for discussing flags and marriage equality (don’t think that I want them ignored), but as a country we need to start getting our priorities straight and actually discussing real issues that are destroying lives around us. Or we can keep reposting tired political memes on Facebook.