We all have those things we hate to love. For me these things include music from the early 2000s, wearing leggings as pants and most of all, the Grand Theft Auto series. I can’t help it. Ever since I first played it, it has been one of my favorite games.
The first title in the series was released in 1997 on consoles like PlayStation and Game Boy Color. Since then, there have been 13 others in the series, which take place in fictional locations like Vice City and San Andreas.
There are a lot of things I really love about this game. The edition that I have played the most is Grand Theft Auto IV. It takes place in Liberty City — the video game alternative to New York City. The premise is pretty simple. You are Niko, an Eastern European immigrant who makes money by doing some dirty deeds for your cousin, Roman.
GTA takes on the role of both a driving game and a shooter, along with being extremely open. You’ll have to do some missions to unlock the whole map and all the businesses (this map is huge), but once you do that, you are free to drive around and cause mass amounts of mayhem.
The things you can do are endless. Are you thirsty? You can hit up a bar and get a few beers. Need some new clothes? Go shopping! You can even climb the Statue of Happiness (the game’s version of the Statue of Liberty).
Another thing you can do is hire a prostitute (you knew this was coming). The depiction of prostitution has been available to GTA players since Grand Theft Auto III. In the first few games they were introduced, all you had to do is pull up in your car next to them to pick them up. It wasn’t too graphic — all that was shown was your car bouncing up and down.
GTA IV is where it gets a bit more graphic. The characters are wearing clothes, but the camera angles are more suggestive with the scenes.
The worst part about the featuring of prostitutes in the games is the fact that after you get your services, you can easily kill them and then collect the money you just gave them.
I think most people realize the amount of violence imposed on women in our societies. Statistics on abuse are difficult to find, but it’s estimated that half of women face some form of it. For women in the field of prostitution, it’s estimated that over 80 percent are physically assaulted.
Prostitution is just one branch of sex trafficking. Just under half of trafficked women are less than 18 when they enter the field and on average spend 11 years in prostitution. Many of these women were abused as children. Currently, many of these women don’t have a safe place to live, health or child care, training for a different job or peer support.
The worst part of all of this? The sex trafficking industry makes over $50 billion a year.
While it’s a crime, it is still a very sad reality for many women. No one should have to face explicit violence and abuse in any job they do, no matter if it’s sitting at a cubicle or doing something a little more risky.
I’m not standing up for the field of prostitution — I’m actually very opposed to it. However, I am standing up for the women that get caught in the mess that is sex trafficking. No one chooses it, and no one should have to.
Sure, GTA is just a game that is far separated from reality, but it depicts something that is very real to women out there. We don’t need to be making things like this a joke, instead we need to be figuring out ways that we can help these women better themselves.
I will probably always be a GTA fan, but I will never appreciate how it portrays the world of sex trafficking. Let’s respect our women, not kill them.
Sophie Kruse is a freshman studying journalism at Ohio University and a columnist for The Post. Do you play Grand Theft Auto? Email Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org.