Thanks to Lubican Spanish for the email – TS
Human trafficking is an important issue, yet male victims get marginalized in news report. Most human trafficking involves slave labor and most of the victims are men. That does not get reported in the news, leaving the false impression that human trafficking is primarily the trafficking of women and girls for sex. Sadly, male victims of sex trafficking go virtually ignored. Boys and men carted off from their homes to other countries do not get mentioned, and due to fear, shame, and the simple lack of outreach to them male victims may be unwilling to come forward. Of course, just because those males do not come forward does not mean males are not trafficked for sex. Case in point:
The Spanish police said Tuesday that it had dismantled for the first time a human trafficking network bringing men rather than women into the country to work as prostitutes.
The police said 14 people, almost all of them Brazilian, were arrested over recent weeks as part of an inquiry into the network’s activities begun in February.
The sex workers were recruited in Brazil, with their travel costs to Spain initially covered by the trafficking network’ organizers in return for a pledge to work subsequently for them, according to a police statement. Most of the recruits, however, expected to work as models or nightclub dancers, although some allegedly knew that they were coming to Spain to offer sex.
The police estimated that between 60 and 80 men were brought to Spain by the network, most of them in their 20s and originating from Brazil’s northern state of Maranhão. They reached Spain by passing through third countries.
The network covered the whole of Spain, with the sex workers placed in, and then switched regularly between, apartments whose landlords received half of the money earned by them, as well as €200, or about $255, to cover food and lodging, officials said.
The police released a video of one of the apartments in which some of the arrests were made, with bunk beds and mattresses cramped into neon-lit rooms. The gang, meanwhile, advertised pictures of the men on Web sites as well as in classified newspaper ads. The sex workers were allegedly provided with Viagra, cocaine and other stimulants to help keep them available for sex 24 hours a day. Most of their customers are suspected to have been men.
The latter suspicion remains to be seen. It is quite possible that women also exploited and abused these men. What should also be clear is that this is unlikely to be a rare or one-time event. Given the way that human trafficking works, in all probability males trafficked for sex occurs more often than anyone realizes or may want to accept. This is simply the first time anyone has got caught doing it.
The article does not state how the police became aware of the sex-trafficking ring. It may be that the police do not want to reveal that information in order to protect future investigations. However, it would be interesting to know given that this ring apparently spanned all of Spain and may have been operating for some time.
Some people will likely blame the victims because they are male and over 18-years-old. Some may assume the men are gay and being such deserve what they got. However, just as is the case with female victims of human trafficking, we must keep in mind that these men probably ended up in this situation in an attempt to get out of another bad situation. They made a poor choice in trusting the people who offered them work abroad, but that in no way makes them responsible for what happened to them. Neither does their sexual orientation, not that it should not even matter
Again, this is the first time something like this has been reported, but it is not likely the only instance of it. This sex ring is probably just a drop of water in the bucket compared to what actually happens. One must also keep in mind that part of what makes this unique is that it involved adult male victims who were taken as adults. It is very probable that not only are boys trafficked for sex, but that many of them may remain prostitutes into adulthood. As a result of marginalizing male victims, those boys and men may simply go unnoticed.