Unseen Victims Of Sex Trafficking.
This short article profiles for us the unseen victims of male sex trafficking. About 2 percent of victims of commercial sexual exploitation is male. Are these 400,000 men and boys being overlooked? As awareness of male victimisation has increased, so has recognition of the plight of individual male victims. Early versions of the U.S. Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Reports—which are undoubtedly some of the most comprehensive sources of country-specific human trafficking information—have very few references to male victims of sex trafficking. In 2007, Japan, Malta and Slovenia acknowledged the existence of the problem. In 2014, it contains references to this phenomenon in the narratives for Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, El Salvador, Eritrea, France, Ghana, Iceland, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines and Qatar. It is likely happening in many more countries, but expectations of who constitutes a trafficking victim, as well as culturally reinforced ideas of who can be victimised, prevent further reports of male sex trafficking from being made or taken seriously. If a single victim is one victim too many, then human trafficking experts, first responders and service providers must first be aware of the very real exploitation of men and boys in human trafficking—both for labour and for commercial sexual purposes. They must learn to devote equal attention to all genders when screening potential victims and to provide appropriate and sufficient services for all those who are victimised, not merely those who fit a stereotypical description of a victim/survivour of human trafficking. The mainstream media are well-intentioned but misinformed, or inadequately trained professionals within the counter-trafficking movement have perpetuated the image of a young, foreign, female victim. Just as it is easier to believe that a foreigner is a victim of trafficking than a U.S.-born citizen because it helps to externalise the danger onto a separate population, it may also be easier to believe that only the “weaker sex” is victimised. This notion is wrong and it is harmful. While women and girls obviously deserve protection, correcting false perceptions is the first step toward ensuring that boys—and yes, men—are also safe. Credit: Human Trafficking Center.
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