Story by Tamara Tiethoff, News Intern
Photo courtesy of barbschmidt.com
Just when we start to believe that all forms of slavery are over, the statistics of sex trafficked individuals continues to rise. When we think of sex trafficking victims, though, females and children are who come to mind often. Although it is true that females make up “around 98 percent [of victims] according to the National Labor Organization,” it is important to not overlook the male victims involved , according to Human Trafficking Center. Even if it is supposedly only 2 percent of males who are being victimized, that is still a huge amount of people who are not getting the help they need. It can only leave us to wonder if those “400,000 men and boys are being overlooked,” according to the Human Trafficking Center.
Upon learning about how many males were not being helped, one couple in particular hoped to make a difference. Chris and Anna Smith built the first safe home for boys in eastern North Carolina. The house is called the Anchor House and was part of an organization they started called Restore One. It had been brought to their attention that according to “The Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization based in Washington D.C., there are only 529 shelter beds in America for victims of human trafficking,” according to NBC NEWS. However, out of those 529 there are only two that are typically held for boys.
The couple’s plan was coming along just as they had hoped until the neighbors found out and started giving the couple constant backlash that they were liars and only out to make a profit, neither of which was true. To people who only focus on the preconceived notion that only females are involved, it can come as a shock to find out the overwhelming number of males who are hurting.
Often times, men aren’t seen as victims of sexual violence and human trafficking. It is depicted through society each and every day that males are not supposed to be the ones who ask for help or show signs of weakness, and because of this stereotype, serious cases are being ignored. A study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, determined that nearly half of commercially-exploited children in New York City were males. Exact statistics are hard to find and ultimately depend on who is asked, however there is no doubt that males are being overlooked. Both men and women have stories and they both need to be heard.
If you or someone you know would like to receive help or report a tip of suspected human trafficking, all you have to do is call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888.
About the Writer…
Tamara Tiethoff is a nursing major in the UDM/Aquinas program. In the future she hopes to become a neonatal nurse and continue writing on the side. She enjoys staying busy, but in her free time she loves drawing, spontaneous adventures, and coffee shops.