MEN have been trafficked into Scotland to be used as gay sex slaves.
In the first known cases of male sex trafficking to hit Scotland, two men were smuggled in from Africa and imprisoned in flats.
The men were victims of separate incidents. One was forced to take part in pornography, while the other was sold for sex.
Experts fear that more victims could follow.
Julian Heng, who manages a support project for male prostitutes, said his organisation were called in to help the men.
He said: “We have had a couple of requests for telephone support for professionals who were supporting two separate cases of men who had been trafficked into the country.
“They weren’t asylum seekers or refugees, they had actually been trafficked into Scotland from Africa.”
There are around 700 trafficked women in the UK but when men are trafficked here, it tends to be for manual labour – not sex.
Mr Heng, who is service manager of NHS Open Road, said the male sex trade often mirrored what happened to women.
He said: “Whatever happens with women involved in prostitution, we will usually see happening with men. It tends to take a couple of years, that’s all.
“So just like we are aware of women being trafficked into Scotland for prostitution, I think we need to be aware that it will happen more with men.
Sexual violence against males, particularly adult men, is not something openly discussed, so it comes as no surprise that the male sex trade skated under the radar. How many of the men used for labor are also used for sex slavery? How many are abused in that fashion, but never report it out of shame or fear? How many never make it out of the situation to even be able to report it?
Those question cannot yet be answered, but as Heng notes what happens to women usually happens to men. It tends to take a while for people to acknowledge it. A similar problem occurs with the sex trade involving boys. While it exists, even flourishes in some places, the issue receives little attention. Abused boys do sometimes have places to turn, but in many instances there is no outreach for trafficked boys. That absence of outreach in turn feeds the lack of reporting. Just as is true with trafficked females, trafficked males are less likely to come forward if they do not have safe places to go or if they do not know that there is help available. This is one of those situations where we cannot wait until the victims comes to us. We must reach out to them and make it well-known that we do want to help them. When that occurs, we may see an uptick in the numbers of trafficked males coming forward, and that in turn may give us better insight into the prevalence of the male sex trade.
Heng goes on to explain the reality of male prostitution:
Open Road offer counselling, access to sexual health services and support to the men to help them get out of prostitution.
Half of the male prostitutes working in Glasgow are actually straight despite their services always being bought by men.
Most are homeless and the idea that male prostitutes are gay men extending their sex life is a myth. Having been sexually abused as a child is a common denominator.
Mr Heng said: “The core harm that messes with their head is they have to perform unwanted sex.
“That sex is no more wanted by the gay men who are prostitutes than the heterosexual men. The shame aspect for both is huge.
“That is why there is no way of making prostitution safe. It doesn’t work. You can’t stop the physical or psychological harm.”
Heng hits on an important point that ties not only to male prostitution, but also to general sex abuse against males. Just because a sex act occurs between two males does not mean that one or both males are homosexuals. In most cases of sex abuse involving two males neither one identifies himself as being homosexual. Even in instances in which one or both do, the sex abuse has nothing to do with that orientation. We must disabuse ourselves of assuming that all males want sex all the time, that all males who engage in or were forced to perform sex acts with other males are gay, and that unwanted sex causes no harm to boys and men.