What about the women? In April some of the men serving in the Secret Service and our military committed a crime against way too many women for someone not to speak up about it. Women at home. Women at work. Women who found out their husbands and sons had failed to protect their integrity.
Now, I’m confident that the vast majority of men assigned to protect the president are good men, but as the president of the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization, I refuse to let the women neglected and hurt be ignored.
It’s time someone talks about the betrayed American women the servicemen left back home. Can you imagine how these men’s wives, daughters, and mothers have been affected?
The wives are especially devastated by their beloved servicemen’s infidelity, not only in Colombia, but now possibly El Salvador as well. The affairs have ruined their wives’ happiness, trust, self-worth, and security.
Right now their wives are dealing with an onslaught of emotions, including self-blame, worthiness, betrayal, humiliation, and rage. Most likely their wives’ total loss of joy has led to serious depression. An affair is the deepest breach of spousal trust; those particular wounds run deep, with scars that last a lifetime.
Right now, the servicemen’s whole family is feeling broken. These men might be able to protect the health of the president, but they have failed to protect the emotional (and possible physical) health of the women in their families. The implications of the servicemen’s action go well beyond their devastated family members. Wives of secret service agents, and military wives everywhere, are questioning whether or not their husbands engaged in the same acts of infidelity while away on duty.
A man once said to me “the heart wants what the heart wants.” Baloney! If we all took that kind of view of the commitments we made in life, no one would ever stay married. No matter what some may say, life is too short to have an affair.
Beyond the American women, there are 20 Colombian women the men paid for sex who are left scarred. I refuse to call these women “prostitutes,” because they are quite possibly victims of sex trafficking. Consider that Watch List reports that between 20,000 and 35,000 of Colombia’s children are coerced into the commercialized sex industry. Sadly, 2,000 of these children work in the city of Cartagena where the Secret Service sex scandal unraveled. According to FoxNews.com, a Colombian state agency has already launched an investigation to determine whether or not the 20 “prostitutes” are, in fact, sex-trafficked children or women.
You might have heard of Dania Suarez. In an effort to support “consensual prostitution,” the media has plastered photos of Dania, the most famous “escort” involved in the secret service scandal, dressed in sexy outfits and sporting a dazzling smile, on the covers of newspapers and magazines. She has even given an interview to NBC's "Today Show."
But what you don’t see is what Dania is going to look like in twenty years … or even the morning she was found screaming outside of a Secret Service officer’s hotel room for the $800 owed her, because she was too terrified to return empty-handed to her pimp.
I challenge those individuals to consider the following:
First, by the time a “prostitute” is 21 years old, she may very well be acting consensually. And even if the escorts in question are over 18 now, when do you think they started? As minors!
The Department of Justice reports that the average age of sex-trafficking victims is 12-14 years old worldwide. Dania Suarez is 24 years old now, but have you heard she has a nine-year-old son? Do the math. She was pregnant at 15 and was probably having sex around age 14. Do you really think 15-year-old little girls grow up saying “I want to be a prostitute”?
Second, prostitution is not a career choice for most women. Even in countries where prostitution is legal and sex trafficking is rampant. For example, in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal, reports show that between 70-80 percent of these women have no immigration papers, which strongly suggests they are sex trafficking victims. So, even if 20-30 percent of them were voluntary, we are talking over 25,000 women or girls who were involuntarily lured into the sex industry.
What happened to “family and country first”? Somehow, we’ve arrived at a place of complacency. If people in the highest levels of security are going to have a motto of “wheels up, rings off,” then we are choosing men without character to guard our nation’s leader and our nation’s secrets.
Once again, character counts, and lack thereof has consequences — perhaps even for our national security. To quote Harry Truman, “If a man lies to his wife, then he will lie to me. And if he will break his oath of marriage, he will break his oath of office.”
Penny Young Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.