Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to provide labor or commercial sex against their will, and it is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world.
The Renaissance Male Project believes that men are complicit in this crime when they purchase sex because they create the demand by allowing others to exploit women and children for profit. Men must play a role in ending this form of modern-day slavery, a vicious industry that exploits and perpetuates the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women and children in the United States and around the world.
The Polaris Project estimates that:
- 27million are enslaved globally.
- 14,500–17,500 individuals are brought into the U.S. as human trafficking victims each year.
- 1 million children enter the global commercial sex trade every year.
There are specific actions that men and boys can take to end these atrocities:
1. Challenge the glamorization of pimps in our culture
Mainstream culture has popularized the image of a pimp to the point that some men and boys look up to them as if they represent legitimate male role models, and they view “pimping” as a normal expression of masculinity. As Carrie Baker reflects in “Jailing Girls for Men’s Crimes” in the Summer Ms. issue, the glorification of prostitution is often rewarded, not punished, in pop culture:
Reebok awarded a multi-million-dollar contract for two shoe lines to rapper 50 Cent, whose album “Get Rich or Die Tryin” (with the hit single “P.I.M.P.”) went platinum. Rapper Snoop Dogg, who showed up at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards with two women on dog leashes and who was described in the December 2006 cover of Rolling Stone as “America’s Most Lovable Pimp,” has received endorsement deals from Orbit gum and Chrysler.
In reality, pimps play a central role in human trafficking and routinely rape, beat and terrorize women and girls to keep them locked in prostitution. Men can take a stand against pimps and pimping by renouncing the pimp culture and the music that glorifies it.
2. Confront the belief that prostitution is a “victimless crime”
Many men view prostitution as a “victimless crime.” But it is not. For example, American women who are involved in prostitution are at a greater risk to be murdered than women in the general population. Research also shows that women involved in prostitution suffer tremendous physical and mental trauma. associated with their work. Viewing prostitution as a victimless crime or something that women “choose” allows men to ignore the fact that the average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is 12 to 14 and that the vast majority of women engaged in prostitution would like to get out but feel trapped. Men should stop viewing prostitution as a victimless crime and acknowledge the tremendous harm and suffering their participation in prostitution causes.
3. Stop patronizing strip clubs
When men think of human trafficking, they often think of brothels in countries outside of the U.S. However, strip clubs in this country as well as abroad may be a place where human trafficking victims go unnoticed or unidentified. Strip clubs are also places of manufactured pleasure where strippers are routinely sexually harassed and assaulted by owners, patrons and security personnel. Men rarely consider whether women working in strip clubs are coerced into that line of work, because to do so would conflict with the pleasure of participating in commercialized sex venues. Men can combat human trafficking by no longer patronizing strip clubs and by encouraging their friends and co-workers to do the same.
4. Don’t consume pornography
Pornography has the power to manipulate male sexuality, popularize unhealthy attitudes towards sex and sexuality and eroticize violence against women. Pornography leads men and boys to believe that certain sexual acts are normal, when in fact sexual acts that are non-consensual, offensive and coupled with violent intent result in the pain, suffering and humiliation of women and children. In addition, a disproportionate amount of mainstream pornography sexualizes younger women with such titles as “teens,” “barely 18,” “cheerleaders,” etc. Targeting younger women socializes men to develop appetites for younger and younger women and creates a pedophiliac culture among men. Victims of human trafficking have also been forced into pornography. Men can stop the voyeurism of sex and sex acts that fuel human trafficking by refusing to consume pornography and encourage others to do the same.
5. Tackle male chauvinism and sexism online
Contrary to the myth that men do not gossip, men spend a significant amount of time online discussing their sexual exploits. The Internet provides many men with the ability to mask their identities while indulging in racist, sexist, and violent diatribes against women and girls. Choosing to be a critical voice online is an extremely important way to educate and inform men and boys about their choices. Men can change this culture by starting threads in online forums that cause men to talk about their attitudes towards women and how these attitudes and behaviors are linked to human trafficking.