Local student acknowledges sex-trafficking and oppression

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(ANONYMOUS) – Oppression is multidimensional because it relates to multiple aspects in which it is viewed and regarded. Oppression is a result of multiple factors; people are suppressed through the overuse of power or authority, overexposure to prolonged cruel or unjust treatment as well as being subjected to unjust and unfair treatment and control.

There are various elements of oppression many of which are unforeseen. The element I will be focussing on in this paper is Human trafficking. Victims of trafficking have many faces and while anyone can become a victim of trafficking, there are certain population groups that are more vulnerable.

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The three groups of oppression susceptible to Human trafficking are the following: men who are oppressed, kids in poverty, and women that are of the visible minority. Traffickers specifically target groups of people that are vulnerable to recruitment tactics and methods. Individuals within oppressive groups have a common association, their mental and spiritual burden.

“Human trafficking sells people into forced sexual servitude and labour and is one of the largest illegal enterprises in the world, but determining the exact number of victims trafficked annually is difficult” ( State Legislatures, 2014). Many victims don’t identify themselves as victims so they tend to not seek or ask for help, this is commonly due to a lack of trust, self -blame, or being directly trained by traffickers to distrust authorities (CSW).

For each of the oppressed groups, I will discuss reasons as to why each of them are more susceptible to Human trafficking; the first being intervention and the second rehabilitation. I feel that both strategies are imperative steps for awareness, active involvement and restoring individuals that have been victimized to health or normal life as best as possible through support, training and therapy. I will end with providing ethical dilemmas that each group faces as this is important to consider when we ask ourselves the following question: what makes individuals more susceptible and vulnerable to Human trafficking and what moral principles do they have to deal with?

The Oppressed Males

Recently I wrote a paper on which focused on Aboriginal women and their high susceptibility to human trafficking in Canada. Throughout my research, I was curious to find out more about other classes of people that were also victims of human trafficking.  My curiosity and readings lead me towards the opposite sex. Men, 2% of them are being trafficked all over the world. “There has long been some support for the idea that men are psychologically damaged, and thus oppressed, within the gender order. In the 1970s this damage was theorized in terms of sex roles, drawing on psychological theories of social learning” (New, 2001). “In the 1990s ‘sex roles’ were superseded by ‘masculinities’, understood as representations and styles of being a man and associated systems of gender practices which could be damaging to men as well as women” (New, 2001). There are male feminists that blame women for the oppression of men.”‘Men are hurting more than women – that is, men are, in many ways, actually more powerless than women now” (New, 2001). “‘The women’s movement has turned out to be not a movement for equality but a movement for women’s maximization of opportunities” (New, 2001).

Men share the same response as women do when It comes down to reaching out for help. They feel embarrassed, blamed, scared, and ashamed of what happened to them, mostly because society has labelled them to be powerful and tough. “Men are the most overlooked victims of sex trafficking. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reported that 98 percent of people trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation are women, but what about the other two percent? Male survivors of sex trafficking are the silent victims of an already hidden crime. Rarely does the public hear about cases of male sex trafficking and due to feelings of shame or humiliation, victims are unlikely to report the crime. As the number of people forced into human trafficking has increased, so has the number of male victims” (Lillie, 2014, p.1). “Internationally, there has been a greater response to male victims of sex trafficking, especially in Asia and the Middle East where the crime is much more rampant. Service providers in the UAE recently opened the first center for male victims of human trafficking in Abu Dhabi and anti-trafficking organizations focusing solely on men such as Urban Light are common in Southeast Asia. In general, there are more foreign organizations working with male victims of sex trafficking because of the high rates of HIV / AIDS in Asia and the global south. Treatment for HIV / AIDS is often part of the rehabilitation and recovery services offered for male victims of sex trafficking. Even in developed countries, there has been a concern for male victims of sex trafficking (Lillie, 2014, p.1). Regardless of a victims gender or where they live, what is evident is that all victims of sex trafficking need rehabilitation and a safe place where they can recover.

Men are extremely oppressed in these situations because of their childhood, they were brought up a certain way which makes them feel like they can’t speak up for themselves without feeling weak. They were told as kids to “brush it off” or “big boys don’t cry”, society has labelled the male gender to be the strong provider and to not show emotions because it shows weakness. What they were taught is what they know and believe and will eventually teach their own children. There’s nothing wrong with crying or showing emotions in my eyes, but for some men, if they show their emotions in front of others they fear that they will be called a “sissy” or a ” crybaby”. These examples are being taught during childhood and follows into their adulthood which in turn prevents them from asking or getting the help they need.

The silence nearly killed Tom Jones. As a child, Jones was raped, abused and sold to men for sex. The brutality ended when he was 15. But, like many male victims, Jones didn’t seek help, didn’t tell anyone about the trauma he had suffered.

Instead, buried his pain and shame deep inside, carrying the burden alone and in silence for another 15 years. Silence did not equal acceptance. “I’m lucky, because I shouldn’t be here,” Jones says. “I put a lot of focus and energy into taking my own life.”Two suicide attempts failed. And Jones says he was preparing for a third attempt when he decided finally to reach out for help” (Swarens, 2018, p.1).

Kids in Poverty

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Poverty is one of the main causes of child trafficking. Poor families sometimes have no choice but to abandon their children, leaving them in the hands of traffickers. Poverty also causes a large increase in the number of street children and orphans. Vulnerable and fending for themselves, they become the ideal victims for traffickers who don’t hesitate in their promise of better living and working conditions in another country. Unfortunately, the reality is entirely different”( Busuttil, 2011, p.1). Kids in poverty as well as adults all have one thing in common, They are vulnerable. This is an example of them being oppressed. Traffickers feel their victims will do anything for money, drugs, food, and so on, so they target the “easy” victims. They also feel they are easier to lure them in because they are willing to do anything to get off the street and better their lives. Kids In poverty are more vulnerable than adults because most likely there aren’t as educated and know what could be going on in society with the traffickers. They don’t think they are vulnerable, but in this situation there more vulnerable. “Children have little control over their environment. Unlike adults, they may be both unaware of risks and unable to make choices to protect their health”(who, p.1). “Often, they are at-risk, vulnerable youths with troubled backgrounds who are homeless or drug dependent, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force” (Basu, 2014).

“In 2003, Washington became the first state to criminalize human trafficking. Since then, all 50 states have outlawed sex trafficking, and most have outlawed labor trafficking. Recently, lawmakers have concentrated on helping children and teens who have been sold into prostitution by passing “safe harbor” laws that treat them as victims rather than criminals” (Basu, 2014).

“Nearly 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, in comparison to 7% of the general population”(Shmitt, 2016, p.1). “LGBTQ people are very vulnerable to sex traffickers because they face higher rates of discrimination, violence, and economic instability than their none LGBTQ peers. When faced with fewer resources, employment opportunities, or social supports, LGBTQ youth who are away from home must find ways to meet their basic needs and may, therefore, enter the street economy, engaging in commercial sex to meet these needs. Others may then seek to exploit these vulnerabilities in order to compel youth into commercial sex. Traffickers may seek to meet the youth’s needs as a way to build rapport and dependency. They may offer a sense of family, protection, or love to build a sense of relationship and loyalty. This bond may complicate the youth’s understanding of their situation and prevent them from speaking out against their trafficker” (Polaris, P.2 ). The traffickers in this situation feel that they have more power over these individuals. Considering LGBTQ makes up 40% of our children in poverty they feel they have a higher chance into bribing them into the sex trade. My personal opinion in this situation is that sex traffickers are very smart. They know that these individuals are more vulnerable due to their high circumstances of being manipulated, mistreated, feeling of loss of self, and family. In this case, this is why these individuals are oppressed because they are easily targeted.  

Women of Visible Minority

“Visible minority immigrant women come from all over the world. In 2006, a majority of South Asian immigrant women came from countries of the Indian subcontinent such as India (49%), Pakistan (14%), Sri Lanka (12%), and Bangladesh (3%). Other South Asian women came from Guyana (5%), Trinidad and Tobago (3%), Fiji (3%) Tanzania (2%), Kenya (2%) and the United Kingdom (2%)”(Chui & Maheux, 2015). “Visible minority women were more likely to be lone parents than visible minority men. In 2006, 10% of visible minority women aged 15 and over were lone parents” (Chui & Maheux, 2015). Because of their cultures and language barriers, they may not understand what’s going on around them. The traffickers feel it’s easier to persuade these women because they might not understand our language. Sometimes they set up an act of themselves and others being in an emergency or needing help which easily manipulates and lures the suppressed group into their hands.

80% of visible minority women are immigrants in Canada. “Visible minority women were more likely to be in a low-income situation than non-visible minority women”. Due to increased unemployment lower income, visible minority women will more than likely live in assisted living neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods have higher rates of violence, abuse and gang-related activity. Traffickers will now think these neighbourhoods are perfect for them and will think of them as targets and hotspots for successfully getting vulnerable individuals. It’s a hotspot for them because they have more accessible people in a narrowed community. “Although In 2006, 26% of visible minority women aged 15 and over had a university degree”(Chui & Maheux, 2015), we would think they would know a different language rather than their mother tongue. But in some cases, they don’t.

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“The female visible minority population in Canada is generally younger than the overall female population and the overall non-visible minority female population. In 2006, 22% of visible minority women were under 15 years of age, compared with 17% of the overall female population and 16% of the non-visible minority female population” (Chui & Maheux, 2015)”. These statistics also benefit the traffickers help target young minority children rather than just women. “It can happen to anyone” say’s Maroussia Mcrae. Maroussia who is African American was 14 when she was approached by older men at the mall. They began to say she was beautiful and find out things in her life she wasn’t happy about and magnify them. They then invited her to a party where she was the “party favour”, she was raped several times, beaten and dropped off at home in the morning. Maroussia is now an Experiential woman, shelter worker, and a mother.  Some other women shared what had happened to them but didn’t want to share their names for privacy reasons. “They beat me so badly. They used sticks inside of me, and put a hot curling iron, hot peppers and broken glass in my vagina. I was in pain. I was bleeding”. “I was beaten and held in a hotel for 14 weeks. The traffickers lit my parents’ house on fire and my mom almost died.”

An inadequate understanding of the problem

In our corporate culture, we don’t monitor or measure women’s advancement adequately.

Rehabilitation strategies are supports to rebuild lives, these include housing, counselling services, mental health and addictions services, educational upgrading, and employment issues. We can also build awareness to the public by having school-based prevention programs for both boys and girls, programs for communities at risk, awareness training, guidelines and protocols for private sectors, programs to reduce demand, and general public awareness.

“Canada also agreed to establish “comprehensive policies, programmes and other measures” to prevent and combat trafficking and prevent re-victimization. The Palermo Protocol calls for research, information and mass media campaigns, measures to alleviate “poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity” and discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and girls, which leads to trafficking”(Canada’s Women Association, 2014, p.39).

ETHICAL DILEMMA’S

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Ethics can be defined as a set of principles and rules of conduct (Morrow, 2008). In research, ethics relates to applying systems and moral principles to prevent harming and wronging others. The reason and goal of systems is to promote good, respect and fairness (Morrow, 2008). “Oppression of women across the globe is the most critical moral challenge of our time” (Caprino, 2013). In our world, we have a lack of protection of women’s rights ie. the legal right to physical safety. Kids in poverty and inequality have ongoing concerns of development economics as well as “experiences of their neighbourhood, their quality of life, the nature of their social networks, and their participation in their communities. (Morrow, 2008) There are implications of their experiences for their general well being and health, environmental and economic constraints”(Morrow, 2008). There are ethical dilemmas for men to be dominant in society. These aren’t roles men need to take on, their just labels society persuades them to be, as well with their manhood. We usually hear individuals say “don’t cry your a man” is an example of them not being able to have emotional feelings and being an ethical dilemma.

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References

Caprino, K. (2013). Why Women’s Oppression Is The Moral Dilemma of Our Time- Sheryl Wudunn Speaks Out. Forbes, Retrieved From: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathycaprino/2013/08/29/why-womens-oppression-is-the-moral-dilemma-of-our-time-sheryl-wudunn-speaks-out/#1006b96e78a7

County of San Mateo, Commission on the Status of Women(CSW), Retrieved from:https://csw.smcgov.org/frequently-asked-questions

Komatsu, T. (2015). Poverty and Inequality: Our Ethical Challenges. Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs,

Lillie, M. (2014). Invisible Men: Male Victims of Sex Trafficking. Human Trafficking Search, 1, Retrieved from:http://humantraffickingsearch.org/invisible-men-male-victims-of-sex-trafficking/

Morrow, V. (2008). Ethical Dilemmas in research with children and young people about their social environments. Children’s Geographies, 6:1, 49-61. DOI: 10.1080/14733280701791918

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New, C. (2001). Oppressed and Oppressors? The Systematic Mistreatment of Men. Sociology. Vol.35, No. 3, pp. 729-748

States fight sex trafficking of kids. State Legislatures, (6),. Retrieved from https://proxy.library.brocku.ca/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.371687117&site=eds-live&scope=site

Basu, S. (2014). Selling People. American Sociological Association, Vol.13. 2,3)

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https://www.who.int/ceh/risks/en/ Children’s environmental health, world health organization

Polaris Project, Retrieved from:  https://polarisproject.org/sites/default/files/LGBTQ-Sex-Trafficking.pdf LGBTQ

Oppressed and Oppressors? The Systematic Mistreatment of Men   http://www3.kau.se/kurstorg/files/a/C10B96391657723759hllmF8F986/ArtkelNew.pdf

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https://www.du.edu/korbel/hrhw/researchdigest/minority/Trafficking.pdf  Human Trafficking and Minorities: Vulnerability Compounded by Discrimination By Heidi Box

https://www.canadianwomen.org/sites/canadianwomen.org/files/NO%20MORE.%20Task%20Force%20Report.pdf “NO MORE” Ending Sex-Trafficking In Canada Report of the National Task Force on Sex Trafficking of Women and Girls in Canada

Citizen journalist born and raised in Thunder Bay, Ontario. I like pizza and reporting on concerning events that are in my home region, or that impact it. You can read more by clicking here.

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