American culture routinely normalizes industries such as prostitution and pornography, such as TV and movie references to or blatant depictions of prostitution, stripping, or pornography, without acknowledging their links to human trafficking. It desensitizes us to the horrors of trafficking, while also pushing the idea that engaging in these acts is masculine, manly, and expected of men.
It’s therefore an unsurprising reality that the vast majority of consumers of prostitution and human trafficking are men, with no women charged with patronizing prostitutes in Pennsylvania in 2019. It’s important to note that males are also victimized–with 6% of global sexual exploitation victims men and while 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry specifically being women–but often by other men.
Addressing these facts and elevating the positive role that men can play is a vital step in ending the demand that fuels the sex trafficking network.
Why is it important for men to join the fight against human trafficking?
Men are the #1 consumers in the sex industry. Unless they actively work to stop that trend, the demand will not decrease. As per the Equality (or Nordic) Model of prostitution, we know that when people are raised to understand the inherent harm of prostitution consumption, their participation in such behavior is diminished. Sex trafficking can only end when the top consumers stop paying to use other women and men’s bodies.
Men who do not engage in these industries still have a crucial role to play. It begins with acknowledging the issue. When discussing with men why they should be involved and educated on human trafficking, we regularly hear comments like, “slavery was abolished in the 1800s!” There is a disconnect. But when we explain human trafficking and that some estimates place the average age of girls being bought at 14, we are suddenly talking about their daughter or sister or granddaughter, and the conversation completely changes.
Women simply cannot fight alone. They can educate, speak out, and do everything “right,” but unless men step up, and step in to help stop the demand, change will reach a limit. Men have to also encourage their children, their friends, their colleagues, and support each other toward that goal. It takes a network to take down a network, and men are an integral part of that network.
This month, we invite everyone, but men especially, to commit to joining our anti-human trafficking network.
What can men do?
- Fill out our volunteer application. We are always looking for volunteers for various roles. When men see other men participating, it is encouraging!
- Talk to your friends. Instead of letting a joke about “hookers” pass by, use it as an opportunity to educate! Not sure where to start? Check out our blog posts Top 10 Myths About Prostitution Part I and Part II.
Thank you to all the men and women who have been strong advocates and role models in the fight for an exploitation-free world.
1 “Report on Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Pennsylvania,” The Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation (Spring 2020), https://cseinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Spring-2020-Report.pdf.
2 “Forced Labour, Modern Slavery, and Human Trafficking,” International Labour Organization (2014), https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm.