Though it appears few are paying attention (and perhaps understandably so), the Church continues to claim to anyone who will listen that many of our sexual practices today not only turn our partners into objects of our pleasure and/or status, but also facilitate an understanding of children as mere accessories to our lives that, often through technology, we may re-produce at will in the context of a consumerist culture.
Both of these trends unite in the utterly disturbing phenomenon of using children as sex objects. Much has been made recently, for instance, of the French magazine Vogue using sexually charged images of a ten year old girl in order to make money:
And once one has established the legitimacy of depicting children as sex objects in this way, the steps leading to even more serious and explicit sexual abuse in the form of child porn are not high in number. Indeed, despite the heroic efforts of an out-gunned and radically under-funded INTERPOL, the rise of international internet porn has launched the industry into a new stratosphere. Often produced and distributed by organized crime, child porn makes many billions of dollars a year and is one of the fastest-growing markets on the internet. (We are even learning more and more about what other kinds of violence this industry may be producing.)
In a related story (one which CMT.com has already highlighted), and it is perhaps the most radically under-reported example of barbarity in our culture, there are between 100,000 and 300,000 people working as sex slaves in United States. Many of them are vulnerable immigrant children who were traveling alone at the time of their abduction, and this is why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of Migration of Refugee services is particularly involved in fighting this ghastly and horrific problem. In addition to raising awareness and providing services to victims, the UCCB has helped to create an international Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking. Please consider getting your organization to join and/or supporting those that are leading the fight. The e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But while resisting these symptoms is incredibly important, they are caused by underlying illnesses: the understanding that one may legitimately use another person’s body for sexual pleasure and the understanding that children exist merely as tools of our will. And it is here where an even more difficult battle lies.