How Stigma Silences Male Trafficking Victims

Forced LaborHuman TraffickingRehabilitation & Liberation

“It is hard – every time I tell my story I feel people do not believe me because I am a man, and should not have fallen into this situation.” Juan is just one of many male victims of trafficking in the UK, where anti-trafficking charities are finding that men are reluctant to seek help due to societal stigma.

According to Hestia, one such charity based in London, men who have been trafficked are less likely than women to report their abuse or even recognize themselves as victims. Speaking to Thomson Reuters Foundation, Patrick Ryan from Hestia explains:

Men who have been enslaved are less likely than women to recognise their ordeal as a crime or report it to authorities, leaving them isolated, vulnerable to drug abuse and at risk of being re-trafficked.

“It’s much more difficult to get men to engage after slavery – they are more likely to write it off as just a bad employment experience, even in cases of brutality,” Patrick Ryan, chief executive of Hestia, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Men tend to face more of a struggle than women to recover, and not dealing with this can create a risk of re-trafficking.”

Hestia says one-fifth of the trafficking victims it helped last year were men. It says many of them were reluctant to share their experiences or even accept money to rebuild their lives. Kathryn Taylor from Hestia believes this reflects the stigma these men feel: “Men don’t want to be seen as victims … it is a challenge to their self-esteem,” she said.

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