The Good Men Project ran a piece by Cameron Conaway on the human trafficking of men and boys:
On the taboo of man-on-boy rape, I’ve talked to several authors and filmmakers who address sex trafficking and they echoed similar sentiments in different words. It should be noted that though their goal is one of awareness it is also one of sales. The two are often intertwined. The more their book or film is talked about, the more buzz. And the more buzz, the more there is awareness and the money to help. That said, these are artists whose work is often shaped by their perception of the general public. Their art isn’t merely for art’s sake and as a result they often have their fingers as close to the public’s pulse as possible. One went so far as to say the following:
“Society can barely stomach the raping of young girls. I feared they couldn’t handle it if my story was about the sex trafficking of young boys. How comfortable would people be with telling others to check out the work? In one sense they could just say it involves rape and most people would assume it meant of a girl or woman. But if it were about a boy or a man could they just say rape and let it stand without adding any extra details? I’m not sure, but I felt that’s where discomfort would come in and I didn’t want to chance it. Great works involve some level of discomfort, but maybe that would be too much.”
Conaway’s piece shows something I and many other people have argued on GMP and elsewhere: there are more male victims of human trafficking, i.e. modern-day slavery, than people think. Trafficking is not just something that only happens to women and girls. We do not know how often men are victims because, as Conaway notes in his article, male victims are less likely to come forward. It is also the case that many human rights organizations simply do not reach out to male victims. I wrote about this in regards to child prostitution in the United States and abroad, as well as the treatment of male rape victims in war-torn countries.
There is no excuse for willfully ignoring this issue. There are too many lives at stake, too many people who need help and might otherwise reach out for it if someone bothered to offer it, and countless people so beaten down that they are too afraid or too brainwashed to ask. We cannot turn a blind eye to that just because male victims are not the “sexy”, socially-acceptable, politically correct victims.
It is also refreshing to see GMP run this kind of piece in light of what happened last year when readers challenged Tom Matlack’s article that framed sex trafficking as something that only happens to women and girls. Some may recall that comments citing figures about male victims were removed. It is good to see GMP recognizing that men and boys are victims of human trafficking.
After all, we do not even know how many victims there actually are, let alone which sex represents the majority of the victims.