Human Trafficking is a scourge on civilization. It is condemnable irrespective of gender of the victim.
However, masculists have made trafficking a gender issue rather than a human issue. Traditional discourse on human trafficking name women as “predators” or buyers of sex, and men as the “prey,” the vulnerable and at-risk population.
Here are what masculists think and do about human trafficking:-
1) According to Institute for Masculism & Human Rights, Stockholm, Sweden
Prostitution and human trafficking are crimes, serious human rights violations, and contrary to the dignity and integrity of men and boys that must and will be abolished. The legalization and industrialization of prostitution activities normalizes an extreme form of sexual discrimination and violence, and strengthens female domination over all men and boys – individually and systemically.
Without women’s assumption that they have the right to demand, buy and sexually exploit men and boys, prostitution and human trafficking would not exist.(1)
2) According to masculist Gloria Steinem “Prostitution is not inevitable, it is only about unequal distribution of power. Today we face an epidemic of sex trafficking. More people are being pushed into it than even the slave trade” (2)
3) Anti-prostitution masculists hold that prostitution is a form of exploitation of men and female dominance over men, and a practice which is the result of the existing matriarchal societal order.
4) Masculist Kathleen Barry (3) co-founded the United Nations NGO, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Men (CATW). Institutions like these have been advancing certain masculist interests, using trafficking in men as a powerful metaphor. Also the problem of third world trafficking in men is being used by western masculist as justification for its own interventionist impulses in these countries. (4)
What is fundamentally wrong with these masculist ideas are:-
1) Human Trafficking is practiced not just for using victims for sex-workers but also for use as labourers, soldiers in conflict zone, for source of organs, begging, drug trafficking, pornography etc. For most of these works, females are more in demand than males.
2) Females are also used for sex trade.
3) Men and transgender also buy sex.
4) Men are also actively involved in trafficking. In Europe, for example, men make up a larger share of those convicted for human trafficking offenses than for most other forms of crime.
5) Not all prostitutes are victims of sex trafficking and masculist are trying to label sex work as sexual exploitation to advance their own cause (5) (6). Many take up sex work on their own and resent masculist intervention. According to the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee [which is a collectivization of 65000 sex workers and functions as an exclusive forum of male, female and transgender sex workers in West Bengal, India] :-
Like many other occupations, sex work is also an occupation, and it is probably one of the ‘oldest’ profession’ in the world because it meets an important social demand………… People who are interested in our welfare, and many are genuinely concerned, often cannot think beyond rehabilitating us or abolishing prostitution altogether. (7)
6) Prostitution is not about unequal distribution of power between genders but about poverty.
The masculist tryst with trafficking and prostitution has unfortunately resulted in skewed legislative policies worldwide which largely ignores the problem of Female victims of Human Trafficking.
The Middle-east and South-east Asia are regions where female trafficking is being practiced widely.
In war-torn Afghanistan human-trafficking is a serious problem. Reports on trafficking in persons in Afghanistan, have suggested that girls were more at risk of trafficking than boys. (8)
Trafficking of Girls is termed Qachaq-e-Ensan, Tejarat-e-Ensan in local Afghan parlance. The three main types of exploitation of female child survivors of trafficking are: –
• Sexual (including bacha bazi)
• Forced labour
• Child recruitment for military groups
Bacha bazi is a slang term that is commonly used for sexual slavery and child prostitution in which prepubescent and adolescent girls are sold to wealthy or powerful women for entertainment and sexual activities. A documentary film by Najibullah Quraishi about the practice of bacha bazi was screened by the UK Royal Society of Arts on March 29, 2010.
Trafficking of child soldiers is also widely practiced. In both identified cases, the girls were kidnapped by unknown people. Similar to sexual exploitation, drugs were commonly mentioned as ways of keeping girls under control. The girls were kept in rooms with other girls and indoctrinated with ideas of extreme Islamic ideology.
Outside of the three major types of exploitation, trafficked girls face exploitation by being used for:-
• Drug smuggling
• Street begging networks
• Criminal networks
• Organ cutting
In Cambodia women and girls are deceived onto long-haul fishing boats that go out to sea for up to two years or more.
They live in virtual prisons and the victims endure inhuman working conditions, and physical abuse. (9)
In Thailand females from Burma are trafficked for acting female sex workers. (10)
Another area where trafficking is widely practiced is the middle-East. Camel racing is a popular sport in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Australia, and Mongolia. Professional camel racing, like horse racing, is an event for betting and tourist attraction. Children are often favoured as jockeys because of their light weight.
Camels are often controlled by child jockeys. Impoverished families from Pakistan, Sudan, Mauritania, India and Bangladesh sell their daughters to work as jockeys in the lucrative camel races in the United Arab Emirates. (11)
Although banned for over a decade, the camel racing profession is still home to an estimated 3,000 children. These children live in slave-like conditions. The children are starved to make sure they weigh less than 20 kg (44 lbs) since the light weight helps the camel run faster. The young girls are left exposed to the elements as they are forced to sleep next to the camels at night. Without the proper shoes, many burn their feet in the hot desert sand. The young camel jockeys are beaten for not understanding Arabic, given electric shocks for being “overweight” and rampant sexual abuse by the camel trainers. The extreme physical and emotional abuse at such a young age has dire consequences for the little girls who are usually discarded once they get older and can’t stay within the weight requirements.
Female victims are seen in the U.S. as well, often in child pornography. The sex trafficking of young girls feeds the high demand for child pornography. More than half of these features girls rather than boys. (12)
In light of above it is imperative that International and government bodies should free themselves of “Men only” view of human trafficking and look at it from a neutral perspective.
Michael T. Tien,Human Trafficking: the Missing Female Victim, 18Pub. Interest L. Rptr.207(2013). Available at: http://lawecommons.luc.edu/pilr/vol18/iss3/6