According to the International Labor Organization, over a million children are exploited in the sex trade every year, with numbers rising at an alarming rate!
What happens to these boys?
Recent stats say the of those trafficked, 30% are boys. Let us take the case of Tom Jones (name changed) – he was raped, abused, and “given” to men so they could use him to fulfill their sick perversions. Even though his nightmare ended at 15, he buried the pain and trauma deep inside for several years. It took a toll on him – he felt he was “unworthy” and attempted to end his life twice. Only when he was preparing for the third time did he finally reach out for help. However, that was difficult as well, because he felt ashamed to talk to a therapist. He knew the therapist cared about him, but the deep-seated trauma prevented him from opening up wholeheartedly.
There are millions of Tom Joneses all around the world whose plight is the same. Law enforcement isn’t very sympathetic when it comes to commercially exploited boys as they often ask why they couldn’t get away considering they are “males”. In 2016, a Department of Justice-commissioned study, Youth Involvement in the Sex Trade, found that boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry!
What is the problem?
Lack of action when it comes to identifying male victims properly, raising awareness about the harm caused due to exploitation, and providing more services specifically for male victims, paint a grim scenario. Thousands of boys and men suffer in silence, and often succumb to depression, suicidal tendencies and chronic diseases. They are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and eventually end up in prison or dead. They are unable to form healthy relationships as well, because most loved ones generally don’t deal well with their bouts of depression, random anger and emotional numbness. Often families are unwilling to accept survivors as they feel the “ordeal” has caused irreparable damage!
The main issue is boys don’t really fit into the model of “being a victim of trafficking”, so their predicament is often overlooked. But they suffer just like their female counterparts – their pain isn’t any less severe. Another problem is a social stigma attached to male survivors, that the abused will become an abuser. This is a strong misconception as most don’t resort to this heinous crime. Moreover, a large majority of gay and transgender youth are likely to become trafficking victims, and their suffering is even greater due to a lot of homophobia in today’s society.
There is always “More Too Life” than being a victim…
Even if the shame and guilt make the boys hesitant to reach out and ask for help, it is necessary to do so instead of running away from the pain. That is where More to Life steps in to lend a hand and give victims of sex trafficking a fresh start.
We don’t encourage the aspect of “feeling sorry” for the victims – our goal is more absolute. We empower sex trafficking or labor trafficking victims/survivors by mentoring and educating so they can emerge as confident individuals who are 100% sure of their identity. While we focus improving mental and physical health through identity discovery, therapy, counseling and exercise, meditation, etc. respectively, educational support for high school, GED, and higher studies is provided as well. Their skills and talent are honed by enhancing work skills, readying for job interviews, and learning to think in a critical and analytical manner. We also prepare them for court advocacy and trial proceedings when it comes to getting justice. To put it in a nutshell, we work on all-round development for survivors.
Human trafficking, which is modern day slavery, exists in our society – there is no running away from this horrific truth. But what we can do is educate, raise awareness, and support survivors, so they don’t live in shame and fear, and the world becomes a slightly better place to live in.