Estimates by some advocates put the number of boys in the commercial sex industry at potentially equal to that of girls. Not only are boys entering prostitution at a younger age on average than girls, they also are often victims of violence and abuse, and are consistently denied assistance by child protective services and the juvenile justice system.
A study by ECPAT-USA, the U.S.-based branch of the international organization End Child Prostitution and Trafficking called “And Boys Too,” finds that this one-sided approach has pushed male victims to the fringes of assistance. The report found that while thousands of young boys work in the illegal sex trade, only 16 percent of agencies surveyed offer any sort of services to male victims. Boys, often viewed as willing participants, face an uphill battle against stereotypes that push the blame onto them. The ECPAT study found those entering the commercial sex trade were likely abused, ran away from home, or were kicked out due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also showed that anti-trafficking organizations rarely penetrate the areas where boys are normally prostituted, and many boys are unwilling to independently seek help due to the stigma of their work.
ECPAT has been working to put this issue on the radar of legislators to press for a more encompassing description of sex trade victims to make its way into the books. Then, service providers can provide more inclusive and tailored services. The organization hopes to raise money for further research, begin conducting interviews, and publish a comprehensive report.
Learn more at Nina Strochlic’s The Daily Beast article: The Sex Industry’s Shadow Victims.