Trafficked Men Don't Get The Attention They Deserve

Image credit: End Sexual Exploitation

“Anyone can be trafficked, regardless of gender. Just as a society we want to protect female victims of this abuse, we also need to recognize that there are men and boys who are victims too, who no longer should suffer in silence.” -Fight The New Drug

After my recent article about what causes human trafficking, I began to see different articles regarding how human trafficking affects boys or men. This will also be a part two to my “Male Victims/Female Predators” article. There's often a focus on how human trafficking disproportionately affects women and children or how these traffickers target women. But we don't often hear about how human trafficking affects men, or how they are targeted. It's bad enough when women are targeted, but it's okay (by society) to see them hurting and in need of help. Men aren't allowed to do so because "they're men." Just like trafficked women, trafficked men suffer just as much. Sometimes more because they are forced, in a way, to keep their abuse silent or be laughed at.
Disclaimer: This article will contain mentions of rape, sexual assault, and human/sex trafficking.

Men are severely underrepresented when it comes to human trafficking. Let's be fair. When you think of human trafficking victims, who do you think of? Women and children. It's the viewpoint we all have. Men are viewed as the instigators or the perpetrators of human and sex trafficking. They're not considered as victims of these crimes.

One story from 2018 told of a young man who was sexually abused by older men, and ended up taking his life. He left a note, discovered years later, of the abuse and shame he felt about being abused. This is not the only case. As I've written before, despite the fact men aren't targeted like women or children, they're less likely to come forward about their abuse.

Why don’t men come forward about their abuse? Well, there is no one specific reason a man won't come forward about their trafficking experience. One reason could be that he feels scared to share his experience, since he's a man and "allowed" himself to be in that situation. Another reason could be that people believe these boys are gay and living out their sexual urges, not realizing that they’re actually victims of sex and/or human trafficking. Whatever the reason is, men don't come out with their trafficking experience because society deems their experience as somehow less horrific than that of a woman's trafficking experience. And because there's not enough discussion or focus on male victims to human/sex trafficking, many in law enforcement does not take these cases seriously either.

In an article from Fight The New Drug, the author shared from a research paper that "One officer referred to a 15-year-old male found in a motel trafficking sting as a 'sex addict' and to another who was 'just doing it for the money.' When filing human trafficking reports, they would often ask, ‘Why couldn’t he get away? He’s a boy.’ This attitude prevents these young men and boys from being properly assessed for sexual exploitation and identification as victims." I'm sure all cops are not like this, but this brings about the conversation that male victims do not get the recognition or attention about their trafficking experience that they need. Men are supposed to be strong because "they're men," so they shouldn't be victims. Thus causing men to not open up about their experience. Nor is anyone supposed to think of them as potential victims to human trafficking. (Image credit: Pinterest)

People think it is a joke when a man is sexually abused. “How could they put themselves in that situation?” “They probably liked it.” If this a woman in the man's place, nobody would make this statement? We can't ignore men's suffering in trafficking situations because men are suffering. In some cases, they suffer more than women because they're "not allowed" to come forward with their experience or will be met with humiliation or denial. We must be more welcoming to men who have suffered abuse, in any form. We can't think it's "funny" that they're in these cases, because if this was your boyfriend, brother, father, or another loved one in this case, you wouldn't be saying that. Men can be victims of human trafficking. Men can be victims of sex trafficking. We cannot stay silent on this. Let's make it normal and acceptable for everyone, no matter their gender, to be open about their abuse.

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