January 13, 2016

Statement: Human Trafficking Awareness – Men and Boys Often Overlooked

Statement by Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of NCOSE

Washington, DC – This January is human trafficking awareness month, yet often the plight of male sex trafficking victims is overlooked, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE).

“Sex trafficking victims are commonly portrayed as young girls, and so often male victims go unrecognized,” said Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “There is a false perception that men and boys are only trafficked for labor, or that they always participate in commercial sex voluntarily. Males who are vulnerable to commercial sexual exploitation tend to be less likely to report their abuse because they feel marginalized. It is up to us to let them know that they are not alone, that they have nothing to be ashamed of, and that they can be free.”

“As every day citizens become more aware of the signs of sex trafficking, we are urging individuals and law enforcement to not overlook males,” Hawkins continued. “The typical signs of sex trafficking can ring true for male victims: evidence of being controlled, an inability to move, bruises or other signs of physical abuse, a sudden change in behavior or attitude. Commercially sexually exploited boys in 2010, in New York, were found to be between the ages of 14-17, with the majority being under 16 years old. Any underage individual being bought for sex is by definition a victim of sex trafficking, and should be treated as such.”

To report suspected human trafficking, call 1-866-347-2423.

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