The Women, Children and Men of Human Trafficking

A short film titled The Victims, by the Toronto Sun. December 14th 2015.

Beaten, broken, bought and sold. Thousands of women, children and men are constantly being forced into the lucrative world of human trafficking. As the video by the Toronto Star shows, this industry is a manipulative hole that feeds off of  vulnerabilities. As a secretive world, human trafficking is considered to be a modern day form of slavery. It includes everything from sex services to slave labour, both as a global and domestic phenomenon. As the industry grows, more and more victims are being preyed on. To combat this, advocates have begun to rise up and bring awareness to this issue. However, a large portion of advocates seem to focus majority on women and children, excluding the voices of male victims.

In her article, Women in Street Prostitution: The Result of Poverty and the Brunt of Inequity, Jacquelyn Monroe writes about sex trafficking that takes place within the United States. As she explains, “many feminist theorists agree that structural inequalities in the United States are all culprits of prostitution” (Monroe 71). These inequalities consist of sexism, classism, and racism. Unlike other theorist, Africana womanist believe “street prostitution [is] primarily the result of racism [more than] the result of classism or sexism” (71).

Human Trafficking and its Impact on the Black Community

Not 4 Sale, an image used by the Orlando Advocate in an article about the impact of Human Trafficking on the Black Community

Due to race, African women are at a disadvantage in society. They’re discriminated against both economically and financially. Having children and being, “unemployed, underemployed, young and homeless” (70), pushes African women into prostitution under the assumption it’s a profitable career. This is why structural changes need to occur (81). This industry takes advantage of women who are already suffering at that the hands many different factors. Preventing this industry from growing must be done by addressing economic inequalities, revamping laws around prostitution to hold those who buy these services and sell these girls accountable, providing social services to the vulnerable and increasing knowledge about the subject.

Olubukola Adesina’s article, Modern day slavery: poverty and child trafficking in Nigeria, looks at similar issues mentioned in the Monroe article, but in a global context.  Adesina’s article looks at internal child trafficking that takes form in the, “recruitment and transportation of children from rural to urban areas” (165) within Nigeria.

Rural children are sold to recruiters under false promises of  high wages and a better lifestyle for the child. Due to the lack of education, parents are oblivious to the exploitation of their children, who are typically girls, due to pre-existing discrimination against the role and value of women. Child trafficking is also not seen as a crime in Nigeria, unlike in the Monroe article. For many Nigerians, trafficking is a part of everyday life and is done by extended family or community members. Adesina article is key in shedding light on the conditions of thousands of impoverished girls in Nigeria.

Both articles bring to light the harsh realities many women and children have to face. By raising awareness and suggesting social programs, Monroe and Adesina help aid the voices of thousands of victims that often go unnoticed. But where are the voices of boys and men who have also fallen victim to this world?

An interview with Malaki Alferos by the Nest Foundation. June 27th 2014.

Malaki Alferos’s interview fills the gaps left behind by the two articles. It shows another side of human trafficking that often gets pushed under the rug. In this industry, it’s men that run the system. They’re the pimps, the sellers, the shoppers, the ones who manipulate and control. However, this isn’t always the case. Although it’s not as common, men can be just as vulnerable to these influences as women and children. Whether it be boys in third world countries or men in North America, human trafficking affects everyone. The belief that men are powerful and dominating is not always true, especially for young, influential boys who are trying to find their way in life. This is an industry that preys on weaknesses regardless of gender. Men’s voices are just as important for the fight against human trafficking. Their stories deserve to be heard. The number of men in this industry may be less than half the number of women and children but they’re a vital part of the fight. We cannot let predisposed assumptions get in the way of recognizing all victims. Recognition is the first step in ending human trafficking and it is a step we all must take.

 

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