A few years ago, you wrote eloquently about businesses profiting off the construction of the Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans, and you warned that if they participated in building the facility, they would be participating in any future evil that would occur there. Does a similar line of reasoning hold true for the commercial sex industry?
Yes. I read with a very heavy heart The Times-Picayune’s investigative series into the Bourbon Street strip clubs. These businesses are profiting by exploiting young women. The newspaper uncovered many instances of the clubs refusing to police themselves and allowing illegal drug and sexual activities to take place in their private VIP rooms. Those activities are illegal, of course, but after reading the series, it seems to me that some law enforcement officials are not interested in enforcing the laws. The series clearly pointed out how young women who begin dancing in the nightclubs are prime targets of pimps. Some of these women are victims of human trafficking and forced sexual labor. We simply cannot say that no one knows about this. It took one newspaper’s investigative work to uncover the facts. So, why is it continuing?
Who bears the responsibility for this activity going on?
Ultimately, we all bear a responsibility if we do nothing. The ultimate profiteers are the strip club owners themselves who are making money on the backs of young and vulnerable victims of trafficking and sexual labor. Now that The Times-Picayune (www.nola.com) has reported on how New Orleans and, in particular, Bourbon Street is a traffickers’ paradise, we have “knowledge” that leads directly to moral implications for us as followers of Christ.
We should not support establishments that are involved in human trafficking nor should we do business with them. If we support a business and become involved with a business that commits criminal acts, we share responsibility for the evil they do. This is a basic principle of moral theology.
All of us – clergy, religious and lay faithful – should learn more about trafficking and be a voice calling for the respect for human life. This is a pro-life issue, as are so many others. We live in a time when we can justify taking the life of the unborn child, end the life of someone in pain, participate in assisted suicide, turn our heads to racism and those in need. Therefore, it could become easy to turn our heads to human trafficking. We cannot – it is modern-day slavery. We are voices for life, and that should include a concern for those whose lives are disrespected by human trafficking.
Recently, I was speaking with someone who honestly was unaware of this evil. As the conversation continued, she said she needs to learn more and stand up for those trapped in such slavery.
Concern for human trafficking is a pro-life issue for all, but even more so in New Orleans, where the lives of women and children are “used” by others and sometimes endangered. This is a daily occurrence.
So, what can we, as individuals, do?
- Pray for the respect for human life from conception to natural death. Pray for those used in human trafficking.
- Bring up human trafficking in conversation and help others know more about how prevalent it is in New Orleans.
- Volunteer to help at Covenant House and other agencies who reach out to those affected and living in fear.
- Do not support any businesses involved in such acts. To do so is to participate in the evil they do. We can also be a bold voice in telling them why we will not do business with them. God can use us to call people to integrity and to respect human life.
Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.