Trafficked people have their own hopes, identities, strengths and weaknesses, and complete life stories
At HopeNow, we pride ourselves on using a human-to-human approach when encountering men, women and children who may be (or are) victims of the crime of trafficking, rather than approaching them as ‘victims’, as if being a victim were their sole identity. Empowerment is not possible if we keep the people who fall victim to trafficking in a victim role.
We can only create positive change and empower victims and survivors of trafficking to a better life through a holistic and long term approach.
In any context, empowering others to help themselves comes from long term trust-building, confidence building, relationship building, knowledge sharing, and creating environments conducive to learning, interacting, and growing. In the context we work in, the conditions may be considered more challenging than most others; however, it is still human beings that we relate to, and we keep this at the forefront of our minds with every encounter we have.
Acknowledging the person’s multiple layers of structural disadvantages deepens understanding of why the individual was vulnerable to exploitation.
According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020, female victims continue to be particularly affected by trafficking in persons. In 2018, for every ten victims detected globally, about five were adult women, and two were girls. About one-third of the victims were children, both girls (19 per cent) and boys (15 per cent), while 20 per cent were adult men.
What role does gender play?
Historically human trafficking has focused on women and children and primarily on women forced into sex work. However, at the end of the 1990s, cases of men being trafficked were surfacing in Italy and Netherlands. Since the beginning of the 2000s, there has been a radical change in the study and monitoring of human trafficking. It became apparent that men can also be victims of trafficking and that human trafficking is not synonymous with sex trafficking but involves several other areas of exploitation.
From 2003 to 2018, there was a changing trend in detected victims’ age and sex composition. Adult women are becoming, in proportion, less commonly seen. The share of boys detected has risen significantly when compared to girls. Over the last five years, the percentage of men among total detected victims remained broadly stable at around 20 per cent. In 2018, most women detected were trafficked for sexual exploitation, whereas the men detected were mainly trafficked for forced labour. However, a significant share of detected men was trafficked for sexual exploitation or other forms of exploitation. Similarly, approximately 14 per cent of women were trafficked for forced labour.
– Source: UNOCD (2020, p. 32) Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2020
We are witnessing an increase of detected men in the number of HopeNow cases in Denmark. However, formal identification is even more challenging for men because of culture and tradition. In most cultures worldwide, boys are taught that admitting vulnerability, showing emotion, and asking for assistance is ‘bad’, ‘unmasculine’, and weakness.