Who are the men who traffic women for sex? Where are they from and why do they do it?
We know that not all traffickers are male, but a large proportion are. Why?
One factor is poverty. Men from countries with high unemployment rates and few opportunities are drawn into one of the fastest growing and most lucrative businesses in the world because they see it as a way out of poverty.
When you couple that with the fact that these men have often grown up in societies where women are considered subservient to men, it’s a dangerous combination that almost inevitably leads to women being abused and men becoming abusers.
While we at the Freedom Challenge support projects that are mainly focused on the needs of women and girls we believe that boys and men, too, need to discover their God-given abilities and potential. We long to see them be the men that God calls them to be.
This is why we support a project in Central Europe that is teaching boys what it means to be a ‘Real Man’.
No positive role models
Recently, project staff ran a two-day conference for 49 boys aged 9-15 from ‘at-risk’ communities. These children come from poor homes; most have no positive male role models, many have alcoholic fathers, nearly all have been neglected and abused.
“What many people don’t realise is just how vulnerable young men and boys are,” said one of our project workers in Central Europe.
“They are vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation; to being pressured into destructive behaviour (we have seen children as young as six drinking alcohol, children as young as eight with a cigarette in their mouths), to repeating cycles of abuse, and also to becoming the type of men who exploit and abuse others.”
The conference taught them that ‘Real Men’:
- have freedom, but that doesn’t mean they destroy themselves with alcohol, cigarettes, and other harmful behaviours
- don’t beat others down in order to make themselves bigger or more important
- take responsibility for their actions
- provide for their families
- are leaders
- have God’s perspective instead of human perspective
During the conference the boys enjoyed the simple pleasures of eating out at a pizza restaurant and a game of bowling. For these young men, this was the first time they’d experienced anything like this.
Even the daily routine of showers, making their own beds and eating three nutritious meals, are not normal day to day experiences for these boys back home.
One really important lesson came from a doctor who taught the boys about their changing bodies and proper personal hygiene. No-one had ever spent time talking to them like this before and they all listened very intently.
The hope is that intervention in these boys’ lives, through this conference and through an annual summer camp and through local churches, will build them up and enable them to see their own value and the value of the women and girls in their communities.
Raising up the next generation
In the same way it’s vital to break the cycle of poverty we also need to break the cycle of abuse.
“We pray that God would raise up this next generation of young men to stand for justice and live lives that honour Him,” said our project worker.
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