The newest Women’s Room volunteer, Emily Richey-Smith, age 20, is a student from Boston, USA, studying in Zagreb at the European Center for the Study of War and Peace. On May 7th, 2015, she presented a workshop examining the correlation between pornography and the rising sex trafficking industry. There were 14 people in attendance, mostly students around age 21, but there were also three faculty members from Gordon College in Boston, and two staff members from Women’s Room.
The workshop looked at the abusive nature of most pornography and the rise of demand of commercial sex, which is almost exclusively purchasing sex from women who sell sex. Many of them are actually trafficking of person victims forced by their traffickers to sell themselves while the traffickers collect all of the money. Emily presented statistics which showed that men who watched porn are much more likely to purchase sex from women who sell sex than men who do not consume porn. Also, men who watch porn and purchase sex are more likely to force the women who sell sex to engage in abusive behaviors they observed in porn. She concluded that one of the most effective ways to decrease the demand for commercial sex, thus hopefully decreasing the number of trafficking of persons victims, is to end the production of pornography as an industry, as well as fighting gender inequality and the over-sexualization of women.
The workshop attendees were very attentive and engaged. The workshop was comprised of a presentation, an activity, and a closing discussion, totaling just over one hour in length. The activity compared the audience’s idea of pornography and sex trafficking. Many words could be applied for either term, such as “abusive” and “money-focused”. One attendee said, “It was incredibly eye opening and posed some serious questions about an over-sexualized culture. The workshop masterfully addressed the complexities of an exploitative industry coupled with individual and societal responsibility.”
The workshop was very well received and Emily hopes to present it again in the near future. She thanks Women’s Room for their incredible support and encouragement throughout the development of the workshop.