This article has a ton of insight into why when we hear about commercial exploitation of minors, we almost never hear about male victims, despite the fact that studies show the percentage of children involved in commercial sexual exploitation is probably pretty close to 50% male.
Some of the nuggets from some in depth studies:
In the recently released study, “And Boys Too” produced by the anti-trafficking group, End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purpose (ECPAT-USA), researchers found through anecdotal evidence that boys enter a life of trafficking around the same time as girls at approximately 11-13 years of age. Of the 40 informants contacted in the ECPAT study, almost half (18) said they would serve boys.
This is consistent with the findings of a previous John Jay College and Centre for Court Innovation study in 2008 entitled, ‘Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in New York’ which revealed that as high as 50 per cent of commercial sexually exploited children in the United States are boys.
Such findings, which illustrate that young males are equally as present as girls in this sex trafficking industry, raise the question – why aren’t we offering boys better protection? Or more importantly, why do they have such little contact with the anti-trafficking community?
According to the ECPAT-USA report, the answer lies in the fact that service providers and institutions incorrectly perceive boys as having more agency to take care of themselves in exploitive sexual situations with policymakers failing to even acknowledge the existence of male sex workers at all.
Likewise, male sexual abuse is still a taboo topic that many people don’t want to talk about let alone read about, as Cameron Conway explained in, “Human Trafficking – The Other 20%”:
“Filmmakers who document the horrors of sex trafficking [say] their work wouldn’t be accepted if it instead highlighted the abuse of boys. ‘The public isn’t ready for it,’ I’ve been told. Truth is, we only speak about the victimization of boys when it’s forced on us by breaking-news scandals like those of Jerry Sandusky or The Boys Scouts of America, he wrote.
Such observations were mirrored in the Juvenile Justice Bulletin of the U.S. Department of Justice, which found that law enforcement officers are more likely to arrest boys engaged in commercial sex rather than refer them to social service providers, as they do with girls.