On September 28, I attended an important event at the United Nations entitled "The Trade in Minors in the Digital Age: Waking up the World to the Dire Need to Stop Trafficking in Children, Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Pornography". It was sponsored by Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking (a multi-national group formed by the Government of Belarus) and the Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)

This was a very tough conference to sit through, because the presenters spoke unflinchingly about the world-wide exploitation of children for prostitution and pornography. They spoke about an appalling reality that most people know nothing about — the global economy that profits from the most degrading incidents of rape anyone can imagine

The facts about child pornography are nauseating. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the US who possess and trade child porn and even more victims. Over half of the possessors have either attempted or actually raped children. Millions of new images of children are identified every year, and the images themselves are beyond belief — most involve actual rape with unimaginable brutality. And the worst fact — 35% of the images were taken by a parent, 15% by another family member, and 20% by someone close to the family

All of this is made possible by the internet. Supposedly reputable websites facilitate child exploitation through adds for sex or "dating" that are actually fronts for prostitution of young girls. The infamous case of Backpage.com was a central topic, because it exposes the critical flaw in US law that allows such websites — digital pimps — to operate with impunity

We have to remember that prostitution is not a victimless crime. Young girls are manipulated into a world where they are repeatedly raped and abused every day, and they find it almost impossible to escape. It is a nightmare beyond anything depicted in the horror films that are so popular. If people saw this reality, instead of the Hollywood glamorization of it, they would be sickened and outraged

The sobering reality behind all this is that this monstrous industry is completely fueled by the disordered sexual desires of men. Without the apparenly insatiable demand that comes from twisted lust, there would be no child pornography and no prostitution. The spiritual cancer of sexual sickness in the hearts of men is producing a living hell for women and children

In a tragic irony, the same day as this conference was happening, the media was lionizing the late Hugh Hefner, who had died the day before. He was hailed as a liberator who opened up a door to sexual expression for men and women. All of that is a lie, and a vicious depraved lie. There was nothing whatsoever admirable about this repulsive man's accomplishments

The real legacies of his sad life are the commercialization of sex, the normalization of obscenity, the objectification of women, broken hearts and families, and ultimately the degrading trafficking in human persons and the explosion of child porn. All of these demonic structures of sin are fueled by the disordered sexuality that Hefner and others like him sold for profit

A healthy society would not pay tribute to such a man. It would engage in serious soul-searching and regret that such a person could be seen as a success

Sexual exploitation of women and children is a sickness in the heart of our society. We must spend as much energy on eradicating it as we spend on any other disease. It is ravaging and destroying hundreds of thousands of lives, and it is taking place right before our eyes. We cannot stand by idle while this horror is taking place.