Taking The Sex Out Of Trafficking – 41% of victims are male says new report
A Government Minister has acknowledged that male victims of human trafficking are overlooked and go without support because of sexist assumptions about women being the main victims.
The news came as a new government provider of human trafficking support services revealed the 41% of the victims it helps are male. This contrasted with a YouGov survey which found the public perception was that no more than 29% of victims are male – according to a report in The Guardian.
Minister for justice, Crispin Blunt, said: “Human trafficking is often seen as predominantly affecting women – meaning that male victims are often overlooked and are forced to go without the support they so desperately need.”
The news reflects an apparent move to take some of the gender politics out of human trafficking.
The last Government put the sex trafficking of women and girls on the public agenda but faced criticism in 2009 when the UK’s biggest ever investigation of sex trafficking failed to find a single person who had forced anybody into prostitution in spite of hundreds of raids in a campaign that involved every police force in the country – see report here.
A book by Laura María Agustín published in 2008 also challenged the “myth of trafficking” reporting a survey revealing that most migrant women, including those in the sex industry, made a clear decision to leave home and take their chances abroad and are not “passive victims” in need of “saving” or sending back by western campaigners.
Charities such as unseen(uk) still make bold and inaccurate claims that as many as 800,000 women are trafficked into the EU every year. According to The Salvation Army, which now provides support services for people trafficked to England & Wales, 85 of 190 men and women it helped in the second half of 2011 were forced in sexual exploitation.
The Government faced criticism in 2011 after making a decision to award The Salvation Army a £6m Government contract to support male and female victims of human trafficking. The main critic was Eaves Housing which had previously held the Government contract for supporting female victims of sex trafficking – see report here.
The Ministry of Justice acknowledged that Eaves Housing “had done a very good job” in recent years, but the Salvation Army had put in a stronger bid for the contract, to provide support for trafficked men as well as women.
A Government spokesperson said: “Eaves are upset and it’s not great for them, but it’s much better for victims of trafficking”.
Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network said: “It is refreshing to hear a Government Minister acknowledge that male victims are overlooked by support services. There are many other areas including suicide support, domestic violence services, sexual violence services, family breakdown, eating disorders and genital mutilation where men and boys are often overlooked and are forced to go without the support they so desperately need”.
In 2011 The Coalition Government outlined its commitment to tackle the inequalities men experience after 100 individuals and organisations working with men and boys, led by the UK, sent a joint letter to parliament on International Men’s Day 2011 – read more here.
However the Government faced criticism from men’s sector in March this year when The Home Office announced that funding allocated to services for male victims of domestic and sexual violence would mostly go to women’s charities – see full report here.
Below is a banner advert from the UK charity unseen(uk) whose focus is to combat the trafficking of women for sexual exploitation which makes the innacurate claim that as many as 800,000 women are trafficked into the EU every year.
Inaccurate claims like these contribute to public perceptions that human trafficking is a women’s only issue meaning that male victims are often overlooked and are forced to go without the support they so desperately need.
The source of this figure appears to be a report that estimated that anywhere between 100,000 and 800,000 men and women could be being trafficked into EU countries every year.