Monday, 14 April 2008

In denial

I'm always aghast at those people who steadfastly deny appalling human tragedies and scandals and insist they're fabricated by scaremongerers and fantasists. So often they just perpetuate misery and prevent effective help.

The list of things denied is endless - the Holocaust, repressive dictatorships, torture, police brutality, tribal violence, slavery, apartheid, global warming. There's always someone with a vested interest in saying, everything's just fine, your imagination's running away with you.

The latest scandal to get the three blind monkeys treatment is people trafficking. Although numerous agencies insist thousands of men, women and children are being lured to other countries to do low status, low paid jobs, with their lives totally controlled by traffickers, the deniers maintain that nothing of the kind is happening and we are all being deceived.

According to them, all these so-called trafficking victims travel to other countries of their own free will and in most cases end up in decent, respectable jobs. Even if they become prostitutes this is because they like being admired and sought-after and stirring sexual desire.

They aren't passive victims desperate for help but free agents shaping their own lives. Their attempted saviours are just liberal do-gooders infantilising those in question in order to further their own careers and the 'rescue industry'.

This 'phoney' concern is even painted as colonialist and xenophobic, keeping those truculent foreigners in their place. The reality of widespread degradation and exploitation is obviously too much for them to admit.

You can present these ostriches with enough damning evidence to fill a pantechnicon, but still they won't accept it, still they go their own sweet way. There's nowt so queer as folk.

See for example: Sex At The Margins by Laura María Agustín

I didn't get the second job - damn! Oh well, the hunt for the ideal job continues....


  1. Denial is self-preservation for some. It doesn't make it any easier for those of us whose eyes are pinned wide open to these abuses - or those left to suffer them.

    All you can do is keep talking about it. Eventually one or two will hear you.

    Thanks for all of your comments, by the way. I have enjoyed reading your blog but it seems to be eating my comments! Hopefully this will make its way through.

  2. FG - Sorry about the gobbled comments. I'm finding the same on other people's blogs. You're right, denial can be self-preservation, but more justified I think if it's a tragedy in your own life. And for those of us acutely aware of the world's miseries, it's infuriating.

  3. Well done you for highlighting this point. This kind of discounting behaviour gets me steaming mad. Livid! You are so right. The people flagging it up or raising protest are then branded as nutters or do gooders. Rubbished for having a responsible attitude towards the planet and human rights.

  4. Vixen, that's it, we're all nutters and nannies and trouble-makers. If only all the energy they put into rubbishing the 'do-gooders' was going into helping those in despair.

  5. There's none so blind as those who will not see . . unfortunately, this is such a clandestine activity that it's really difficult to prosecute the perpetrators. In Australia the crime of people smuggling (bringing in illegal immigrants) receives more attention than people trafficking (slavery for whatever purpose)

    In October 2003, the Australian government announced additional anti-trafficking measures with a $20 million package, targeting sex trafficking in particular.
    The package includes:
    A new Australian Federal Police (AFP) unit, the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Team (TSETT)
    New visa arrangements for trafficking victims
    Victim support measures, including counselling and legal and medical support, to be administered by the Office for the Status of Women (OSW)
    Making people trafficking punishable by up to 20 years jail

    I don't know if it's working.

    Thanks for posting this sort of stuff, it makes me research these topics and understand them a little better.

  6. Baino, thanks to you too for your comment, I'm glad to know Oz is taking the problem so seriously. It's really vital to have a dedicated unit sniffing out the traffickers because as you say they're well hidden - the victims are often afraid to seek help for fear of reprisals.

  7. It's too easy for people who have lived in privilege to turn a blind eye to others' tragedies. People try to justify the bad things that happen to someone else by blaming that person and allowing themselves to believe that "this couldn't happen to me." And by pretending things don't exist (global warming, racism, etc), they excuse themselves from the self sacrifice and understanding needed to bring about change.

    Btw, just this weekend I watched the movie Trade which is about the trafficking of women and children and forcing them to become sex slaves. As horrific as these stories are, I always find myself wondering about the perpetrators. What leads someone down the path of becoming a trafficker? And how can you possibly excuse preying on the young, weak, and poor?

  8. Agreed! - I'm pretty sure if you asked the countless Eastern European prostitutes if their passage and where they ended up was adequetely explained to them they would say "HELL NO!" - very sad how some people refute and others believe the bullshit!

  9. Heck if you flag up anything that hasn't been programmed into people via the mainstream media you are branded a loony.

  10. Nicole - You're right, people don't want to make the effort to understand, or change their own behaviour. And no, I can't grasp what turns someone into a trafficker either - such complete absence of morality or compassion.

    Quickie - Too true, people who desperately want a better life are easily duped by phoney promises and smooth words.

    Muddy - Either a loony, an ignoramus, an extremist or an agitator - take your pick.

  11. I think the world is in a massive state of denial about everything, Nick. Perhaps it is just too appalling to grasp HUGE tragedies, we can only be sensitive to the little? Just a thought.
    I was reading about the the staggering upsurge in child prostitution in Syria - all Iraqi orphan child refugees. Have you seen anything on that?
    I was sickened.
    We can speak up but helplessness in the face of such denial seems to be our modus operandi.

  12. www - Child prostitution in Syria? No I hadn't heard anything about that. Well, I suppose it's a predictable consequence of children fleeing Iraq and being exploited. Dreadful. And it's funny how people can grasp natural tragedies like the tsunami but human-created tragedies are too much for them to face up to.

  13. Sadly, there have always been predators and prey, and those who stop their ears and cover their eyes so they don't have to DO anything about it.

    When people begin to care more about the survival of those less fortunate than their own comfort, things will change.

    But until that happens, all of us who turn a blind eye to the misery of others do not deserve to consider ourselves human.

    We are here by the grace of God to help others. If we do not, then we are failing this entire incarnation.

  14. Heart - Exactly, caring about the less fortunate and not just our own comfort. Regrettably more and more people put their own increased comfort first and foremost. And I agree too that if we ignore other people's misery we are less than human.

  15. I am playing devil's advocate here a bit - but talkng of evidence -have you read the book? It might challenge your world view but isn't what free expression is about surely (thinking here about Satanic Verses)-

  16. Hi Ripple - any relation to Textual Healing?? No, I freely admit I haven't read it, but I have read an interview with her in which she makes the arguments I mention. I'm always open to having my world view challenged, but having been challenged I still prefer my existing view!