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.
The scenario is tough – while human trafficking is on the rise and continues to grow, governments are falling behind when it comes to prevention. Some countries have created policies to combat this problem, but others are way behind with no counter-trafficking laws.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was authorized almost two decades back. It was the very first federal law to address sex and labor trafficking in the United States – it constituted of measures focusing on prevention and protection for trafficking survivors, as well as prosecution for traffickers. The TVPA was reauthorized in 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013 and 2016 the Trafficking Victim’s Protection Reauthorization (TVPRA). It holds government contractors responsible for using foreign labor recruiters that use exploited labor, helps law enforcement prevent and prosecute sex tourism, and creates a grant-making program to prevent trafficking in humanitarian crises. Some states have enforced strict legislation. For instance, a Human Trafficking Task Force was created in Massachusetts to protect victims of trafficking and severely punishes those using the Internet as a trafficking tool. But Wyoming has only just caught up by passing House Bill 133, which details trafficking legislation and will be passed onto the Senate.
This country meets the minimum standards for preventing human trafficking, which is why it holds the status of being at Tier 1 level in the United States Trafficking in Persons Report. But labor exploitation and trafficking in factories still loom over the horizon, with migrant workers and vulnerable locals being abused and falling ill. The Punishment of Acts Arranging Sexual Traffic and its Labor Standards Act places harsh sentences on traffickers, but there is no clear legislation defining trafficking.
As many as 200,000 Indian children are trafficked every year! They are coerced into domestic servitude or labor in brick kilns or embroidery factories. Even though there are government- sponsored Anti-Trafficking Units set up to investigate human trafficking cases, laws aren’t enforced as strictly as they should be. Since India is a large and regionally diverse country, a universal trafficking law doesn’t really hold weight, which is one of the major issues. Other factors like corruption and lack of training and resources make it difficult to ensure that programs are effective. However, the U.S. State Department has encouraged India to carry on with their efforts to raise awareness about human trafficking and establish anti-trafficking courts to prosecute offenders on local levels.
The Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation came into effect so that Cambodia would be compliant with U.S. anti-trafficking recommendations. However, this law has been criticized for conflating sex work and human trafficking, making those who engage in sex work either go into hiding or be at risk for prosecution. Another challenge is to distinguish between those who are trafficked and participating by choice – Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia, so sex work is at times considered economically rational.
According to the Kvinnofrid law, you are punishable if you buy sex, but not if you sell sex. The law was perceived this way because authorities believed it would reduce human trafficking and curb demand for prostitution. The downside to such laws is they force sex workers to operate “from the shadows” but don’t really reduce number of trafficking cases.
Human trafficking survivors don’t have it easy, as they have to overcome trauma (years of it at times), and other conflicting emotions like guilt, shame, anxiety, etc. and started living normal lives once again. Even if they manage to come out of that vicious cycle, they are still victims in away, because the physical and mental damage is already done. At More Too Life, we provide survivors with a fresh start with the aid of therapy, counseling, exercise, yoga, and meditation, while educating and empowering them to move ahead in life. We also liaise with experts to prepare them for upcoming trials and eventually get justice for everything they have been through.
Human trafficking is the 2nd largest criminal enterprise globally, and rakes in billions every year! Despite efforts by governments of various countries, the business continues to grow with profits tripling over the past decade alone.
These include a vast network of criminals and criminal enterprises involved in organizing and implementing the practice of trafficking human beings. Victims could be recruited into modern slavery by coercion, fraud, or force. The common gambit is to lure them with promises of a better life via employment and travel agencies, or family and friendship connections. But victims are often abducted, and their families threatened with dire consequences if they fail to comply. Once victims are “recruited” they are transferred to a destination across town, within a country’s borders, or across borders, to be exploited for labor or sex. When victims arrive at a location, they are forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, bonded labor, pornography, etc. Apart from those directly involved with human trafficking, enablers are part of the industry as well – they are individuals who knowingly or unknowingly provide goods and services, so trafficking can operate smoothly.
Types of trafficking
One of the most common forms of trafficking, sexual exploitation is when women, men or children are forced into the commercial sex industry and held against their will by force, fraud or coercion. Sometimes they are brutally raped to “break down their mental strength” so when it is time to perform sexual acts, they become numb, follow orders without questioning, or don’t even think about trying to escape. Victims are forced into prostitution, pornography, working at massage parlors, dancing in seedy bars & hotels, stripping on webcam, etc. Children are in special demand as a lot of pedophiles and rapists request they be “delivered” to fulfill disgusting sexual fantasies.
Forced labor victims are forced to work for no pay and threatened with violence if they don’t comply – they are treated as property. The fishing, textile, construction, mineral and agriculture industries are particularly laced with forced laborers. Bonded labor is similar, but in this case, individuals are compelled to work so they can pay off a debt. They aren’t allowed to leave till the debt is paid in full. The problem is while the person puts in effort to clear the debt, employers pile on additional expenses such as food, lodging, etc. till the accrued amount is exorbitant, and repayment is impossible. Thus, the person has to be enslaved for life!
Victims are forced to work as live-in help in private homes, which is a cover for exploiting and controlling someone’s life, who is usually from another country. It is a form of forced labor as their documents are confiscated and they are fraudulently convinced they don’t have anywhere to go. They must work long hours with little to no pay and given meagre meals.
What More Too Life does for victims of human trafficking?
Most survivors of human trafficking are unable to lead normal lives after escaping or being rescued from that horrific world. More Too Life steps in to provide them with intensive therapy to overcome trauma, guilt, and suffering, while working on physical health as well. Housing needs are taken care of, thanks to our wonderful housing collaborative partners. Homeless victims and high-risk homeless women from 18 to 27 years of age have been helped through the “Safe Stay” Program, created by partnering with the Sarasota Salvation Army. We believe in providing expert advocacy for all survivors as we work with numerous NGOs, state and federal agencies, law enforcement in the city, across state, and in the federal department. Voices for Florida and the Open Doors Network as enabled MTL to higher more staff and work across counties with hundreds of victims identified, rescued, with traffickers and violators getting appropriate sentences and family members, community and professionals understanding this issue and its root causes.
Don’t forget to check out our various human trafficking prevention programs and training guidebook that raise awareness and are a significant step towards stopping these heinous crimes.
Human trafficking is a major issue that needs to be prevented and stopped altogether, but unfortunately it is on the rise. People of all genders and ages are being trafficked, with females typically being victims of sexual exploitation, while boys are usually coerced into forced labor.
What do the numbers say?
U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo has released the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report in 2019 (19 th installment with 187 countries and territories). This report monitors and assesses government efforts to combat human trafficking and highlights strategies to address this crime and protect the victims, on a global scale. The exact statistics are difficult to measure, but several international organizations have estimated that a whopping 77% of trafficking victims are exploited in their own countries.
The United States came out on top in 2018, as being one of the worst places for human trafficking. Most cases are reported in Florida, Texas, California, and Las Vegas. The number of victims being trafficked in the US is between 18000 and 20000 per year. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children claimed that 73% of the 10000 child sex trafficking reports they received contained ads from Backpage, so you can comprehend how the Internet is being used to target such victims.
Did you know that the number of human trafficking victims indentified worldwide have tripled form 30,961 to 100,409 between 2008 and 2017. The two primary forms of exploitation people are trafficked for are forced labor and sexual exploitation, with regional variances on the proportion of each.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that almost 40.3 million victims are trapped due to modern day slavery with 24.9 million being exploited for labor, and 15.4 million forced to marry. When it comes to forced marriage, 37% of those are children. Around 71% of trafficking victims around the world are females, with 29% making up males. 30.2 million victims, around 75%, are aged 18 or older, with the number of children under the age of 18 estimated at 10.1 million or 25%. Moreover, 21% victims of sexual exploitation are children. 16 million, around 64%, of forced labor victims work in domestic work, construction or agriculture.
More Too Life gives victims a fresh, identifies them where others miss and works with violators.
The Anti-Sexual Violence and Human Trafficking services and prevention agency, called More Too Life also and Open Door Doors Outreach Network Provider was is founded in 2006 by Dr. Brook Parker-Bello who is an author, film-maker, civil rights leader and champion survivor from domestic minor sex-trafficking. She has worked closely with governments, nations, NGO’s, authorities to prevent trafficking and educate victims and violators and at risk youth with an incredible team, some contracted via Voices for Florida, apart from influencing key legislation in Florida and nationally to ensure that children can’t be labeled as prostitutes as well as not legalizing prostitution along with the need to provide prevention for at-risk youth, plus men and boys.