Letter: Strengthen penalties for sex slavery

Online advertising has made the availability of this Online advertising has made the availability of this sexual "merchandise" visible and affordable for thousands of men. It is time to stop pretending that this harsh reality is mere fantasy. Photo Credit: Janet Hamlin

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I am grateful for the New York Legal Aid Society's Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project, acknowledging females who are forced into sex slavery as victims instead of criminals ["Stop trafficking," Opinion, Jan. 13]. This is a situation that is literally occurring in our own backyards.

One of my goals as a high school women's studies teacher is to educate my students about the plight of millions of women around the world. I explain the issues of female genital mutilation, forced marriages of girls as young as 5, and inhumane beauty practices. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once told an interviewer, who suggested that such acts were part of one's culture, that "it is not cultural, it is criminal."

There is no easy solution, as many of these victims are part of an enormous pyramid of crime, money, and power that infiltrates from Eastern Europe, Mexico, Asia, etc. Law enforcement needs to arrest and prosecute those who "purchase" services from these females. Online advertising has made the availability of this sexual "merchandise" visible and affordable for thousands of men. It is time to stop pretending that this harsh reality is mere fantasy.

Jennifer Motl, Sayville

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