10 Things Men and Boys Can Do to Stop Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It is the use of force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person to provide labor or commercial sex against their will, and it is one of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world.

The Renaissance Male Project believes that men are complicit in this crime when they purchase sex because they create the demand by allowing others to exploit women and children for profit. Men must play a role in ending this form of modern-day slavery, a vicious industry that exploits and perpetuates the suffering of hundreds of thousands of women and children in the United States and around the world.

Based on a list of statistics that The Polaris Project compiled:

  • 27  million are enslaved globally.
  • 14,500–17,500 individuals are brought into the U.S. as human trafficking victims each year.
  • 1 million children enter the global commercial sex trade every year.

There are specific actions that men and boys can take to end these atrocities:

1. Challenge the glamorization of pimps in our culture

Mainstream culture has popularized the image of a pimp to the point that some men and boys look up to them as if they represent legitimate male role models, and they view “pimping” as a normal expression of masculinity. As Carrie Baker reflects in “Jailing Girls for Men’s Crimes” in the Summer Ms. issue, the glorification of prostitution is often rewarded, not punished, in pop culture:

Reebok awarded a multi-million-dollar contract for two shoe lines to rapper 50 Cent, whose album “Get Rich or Die Tryin” (with the hit single “P.I.M.P.”) went platinum. Rapper Snoop Dogg, who showed up at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards with two women on dog leashes and who was described in the December 2006 cover of Rolling Stone as “America’s Most Lovable Pimp,” has received endorsement deals from Orbit gum and Chrysler.

In reality, pimps play a central role in human trafficking and routinely rape, beat and terrorize women and girls to keep them locked in prostitution. Men can take a stand against pimps and pimping by renouncing the pimp culture and the music that glorifies it.

2. Confront the belief that prostitution is a “victimless crime”

Many men view prostitution as a “victimless crime.” But it is not. For example, American women who are involved in prostitution are at a greater risk to be murdered than women in the general population. Research also shows that women involved in prostitution suffer tremendous physical and mental trauma associated with their work. Viewing prostitution as a victimless crime or something that women “choose” allows men to ignore the fact that the average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is 12 to 14 and that the vast majority of women engaged in prostitution would like to get out but feel trapped. Men should stop viewing prostitution as a victimless crime and acknowledge the tremendous harm and suffering their participation in prostitution causes.

3. Stop patronizing strip clubs

When men think of human trafficking, they often think of brothels in countries outside of the U.S. However, strip clubs in this country as well as abroad may be a place where human trafficking victims go unnoticed or unidentified.  Strip clubs are also places of manufactured pleasure where strippers are routinely sexually harassed and assaulted by owners, patrons and security personnel. Men rarely consider whether women working in strip clubs are coerced into that line of work, because to do so would conflict with the pleasure of participating in commercialized sex venues.  Men can combat human trafficking by no longer patronizing strip clubs and by encouraging their friends and co-workers to do the same.

4. Don’t consume pornography

Pornography has the power to manipulate male sexuality, popularize unhealthy attitudes towards sex and sexuality and eroticize violence against women. Pornography leads men and boys to believe that certain sexual acts are normal, when in fact sexual acts that are non-consensual, offensive and coupled with violent intent result in the pain, suffering and humiliation of women and children. In addition, a disproportionate amount of mainstream pornography sexualizes younger women with such titles as “teens,” “barely 18,” “cheerleaders,” etc.  Targeting younger women socializes men to develop appetites for younger and younger women and creates a pedophiliac culture among men. Victims of human trafficking have also been forced into pornography. Men can stop the voyeurism of sex and sex acts that fuel human trafficking by refusing to consume pornography and encourage others to do the same.

5. Tackle male chauvinism and sexism online

Contrary to the myth that men do not gossip, men spend a significant amount of time online discussing their sexual exploits. The Internet provides many men with the ability to mask their identities while indulging in racist, sexist and violent diatribes against women and girls. Choosing to be a critical voice online is an extremely important way to educate and inform men and boys about their choices. Men can change this culture by starting threads in online forums that cause men to talk about their attitudes towards women and how these attitudes and behaviors are linked to human trafficking.

6. End sex tourism

Men in the U.S. and other “first world”  nations routinely travel overseas and have sex with women in developing countries. When men engage in these practices, they do not acknowledge the fact that many trafficked women and children come from developing countries—even in countries where prostitution is “legal.” Traveling overseas grants men a great deal of anonymity. As men, we have a responsibility to confront the men that go overseas and participate in sex tourism.

7. Talk to men and boys about men’s issues in male spaces

The only way to change men is by engaging spaces where men and boys talk and develop their ideas and attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Males spaces such as barbershops, locker rooms, fraternities and union halls are the real classrooms where boys learn to become men and where men develop most of their ideas about how to interact with women. If men do not feel comfortable talking about these issues in male spaces, they can drop off informational brochures and make themselves available to talk with other men and boys when they have questions or concerns. As men, we need to turn male spaces into circles of accountability where men learn about non-violence, social justice and ending violence against women.

8. Support anti-human-trafficking policies

President Obama declared January 2010 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. However, more substantive legislation is required to end human trafficking. Men can educate themselves about the issues by visiting anti-trafficking organizations and by asking their elected officials what they have done to support or sponsor anti-human trafficking legislation. One of the most important acts men can do to stop human trafficking is to support anti-trafficking legislation at the local, state or federal level.

9. Support creation of “John Schools”

There would be no human trafficking if there were was no demand for it. Strategies aimed at ending human trafficking must focus on eliminating the demand. “John Schools” are education programs designed to educate customers apprehended by law enforcement who attempted to purchase sex. By teaching the legal and health effects of buying sex and the realities of prostitution, such schools impart knowledge that can reduce demand, making men conscious of how their actions can spur on human trafficking. Learn whether or not your local community has a John School. If not, encourage your local prosecutor’s office or city counsel to start one.

10. Raise sons and mentor boys to challenge oppression

No boy is destined to be a “john,” a pimp, or a human trafficker. Raising young men in circles of accountability to be respectful and protective of all women and children is one of the most important things men can do to stop human trafficking. Talk about human trafficking as a modern form of slavery to help convince men and boys to become allies in the fight to end this form of oppression.

Editors’ note: What do you think of these suggestions? Please comment and discuss!

This blog post is based on the Renaissance Male Project’s informational brocure; if interested, contact the author through his contact webpage

Above: A sculpture in Vigeland Park in Oslo, Norway of a man holding a child. Photo courtesy of Flickr user Quistnix! // CC 2.0.


  1. Thank you for writing this! Until we decrease the demand for these girls and children, this will never end!

  2. Excellent! Excellent! Excellent article! Thank you for writing this.

  3. Great article … I’m a dad of 4 daughters, hope my fellow guys will take notice.

    • I remember the day I asked him:

      “What if someone treats your daughters the same way you are treating me?!”
      “Go ahead and fuck me in the ass right here (as I stood naked in front of all three of my daughters) in front of your daughters.” Little did I know the extent of the broadcasting already…..
      I know you Pain.
      I know you GOD
      and I know you ENDURANCE and I know LIFE again and I am living to save them ALL!

      FUCK YOU PERPS with love… because only LOVE can KILL your HATRED.

      Love you all!

      “Some Woman Named Named Teresa In Nebraska”

      I can hate no more. Only love them and feel sorry for the PERPS with the ILLNESS

      May they HEAL before I die, for only my ANGEL shall pursue them into goodness then.

      MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Protect Women and Children. AMEN

  4. This is absolutely incredible. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  5. I like how this article encourages accountability among men and raises awareness on the issue…but I don’t like how it excludes, disregards and discourages women who participate in the industry consensually. Prostitution was the very first trade, and I sincerely doubt that it’s going anywhere, at least not until women have exactly equal status in society and/or men and women are able to communicate perfectly and thus have their every sexual fantasy satisfied in committed relationships.

    I think the concerns are and should be consent and respect. The sex industry is currently male-dominated, so even the establishments that do not force women to participate still often encourage their degradation and objectification, and sexual harassment and abuse by both employers and customers are rampant because of it. One of the more legitimate reasons that a man might go to a consenting sex worker is to learn what will please and satisfy a woman, so that they may have better opportunities to do so in personal relationships. How men treat women in society is often reflected by how society treats sex workers. Sex workers cannot fulfill a chosen role of intimate instruction if they are persecuted.

  6. In response to Elizaskw, there is no historical evidence that women have chosen prostitution for the ‘fun’ of it. Women has suffered thousands of years of social, political and economic oppression, leaving huge portions with no way to earn an income, save put a price on their bodies. Additionally, in most American states, minors can’t consent to sex acts-therefore they can’t consent to selling them. The overwhelming majority of sex workers in the US are youths and if you read the article-they enter the ‘workforce’ between 12 and 14-at a time when they cannot consent legally to sex, for sale or otherwise.

  7. Sarah,

    I agree that minors cannot consent to sex and should not be sold for sex or sell themselves for sex. And yes, a good percentage of prostitution involves women who have economic hardships and feel they have little choice otherwise and also involves women who were trained in sex work from a very young age. However, I do not believe this epidemic of sex slaves and objectified women and children should force consenting sex workers out of a business that they could protect if given legal protection themselves. These are two separate issues. To say that women should not be permitted to earn money from their own sexual expression because other women and children are forced into sexual slavery on a daily basis is like saying that no person should be allowed to physically labor because some people are sold into slavery to do so.

    Yes, some women involved in sex work do enjoy what they do. One good example would be Wrenna Robertson, who expresses this herself in an article here: http://www.lovesexfamily.com/2011/05/healing-powe… She has been a stripper for many years and continued to strip despite having worked her way through college because her job was something that she genuinely enjoyed.

    To say that “historically” there is no proof that any women enjoyed sex work…well, that probably has a lot to do with the fact that “historically” these women were not allowed to learn to read and write, and thus never got to record their own experiences. And also, historically we have had the same problems. Slavery of women and children has always been around and so has the prevalence of patriarchal societies and very often that has been coupled with some religious demonizing of consensual sex work.

  8. I am an advocate and abolitionist against human trafficking, which is modern day slavery. Please feel free to go on our FB page, A Bridge of Hope, like it and post anti-trafficking articles there for our viewers. We are partnered with a bunch of organizations throughout the nation, who will forward them as well.

  9. Even though there are those who like to work in this market men/women it does not make it right. Get off the pole/stage/private rooms/ whatever and get a job and do something constructive that will benefit humankind. What good are you doing for society by offering sex or sex acts for money. How can society benefit from this. Ask yourselves these questions and realize that there are no real answers that are good answers. The country I come from is small and the women and children are the ones who suffer form this crap. If we let the men have the run of the place nothing will get better. If you are defending this then you need to get your views and priorities straight. THEY DO NOT BENEFIT HUMANKIND.PERIOD.

    • Whether or not sex workers “benefit society” is a moot point. Your subjective value judgements, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, do not give you the right to supercede another person’s right to choose their own path. People own their bodies and are free to express that ownership until somebody initiates force to stop them. I highly doubt that you are volunteering for the task of personally shutting down strip clubs with the threat of your own force. Your argument is basically that your subjective value judgement about the “benefit to society” of voluntarily selling sex should be enforced by the violence of the state. Pushing the sex trade further underground would only empower those who would seek to exploit sex workers and deny those individuals basic human dignity.

  10. Outonalimb says:

    Absolutely. If we men can stop watching porn ourselves and convince other men to not do so, it would great. But the truth is, most guys I know including myself have watched porn.

    But eventually you realize it’s just an ugly, loveless form of masturbation. The women start looking like objects instead of women…It’s truly wrong…

    By the way, I understand more and more women are escaping into the fantasy world of porn. The world would be better off if people worked on their relationships with real people!

    • Steph Lovely says:

      I agree with what you just said and think porn is more to blame than people think. They say it’s harmless but it isn’t. It destroys families and leads people (mostly men) to believe rough sex and unwanted sex are gratifying for women. It saddens me and sickens me at the same time.

  11. This article conflates trafficking with the sex industry generally and also fails to consider the detrimental effects of the criminalisation of prostitution on the sex workers themselves. I live in NSW Australia where prostitution has been decriminalised. The result is a marked improvement in the lives of sex workers, legal brothels supervised by government and local councils, improved relationships between sex workers and the police. These conditions bring the industry into the open and allow workers to gain protection of the law. Trafficking is more easily exposed in a decriminalised environment. prostitution will never be eliminated, but criminalising it simply means that criminals will control it. Decriminalisation is a huge success and a civilised way to allow sex work to be a legitimate, supervised and accountable workplace for sex workers. In NSW we have women run cooperatives running brothels.

    Criminalising sex work or even taking the moral high ground of criminalising clients simply plays into the hands of criminals and hands control of the industry to them and to corrupt police.

    Sex work is legitimate work, no less legitimate then being a masseur or a nurse or a plumber, the odium of peoples guilt and moral judgment and crimininalisation is what has driven it into the hands of criminals.

    Drug prohibition has been a massive failure as well that has only strengthened the hand of organised crime, the ongoing criminalisation of prostitution does the same.

    lets get these things out in the open where the workers can make real choices and gain legal protections available to all other workers.

    End demand is a stupid misguided approach similar to the drug war which makes victims out of the people it claims to be aiming to ‘rescue’.

    I agree there is much that can be done to teach young men to have greater respect for themselves and for women, greater respect for all women including sex workers. Trafficking and slavery are abhorrent and thrive under the cover of outlawed sex industries.

    • I, too, live in an area where prostitution is legal – the only area of its kind in the United States. I have been inside 4 different brothels, read through numerous studies and first-hand accounts, heard the stories of women who have worked in prostitution, both by choice and by force. And I have a few questions for you and they are as follows:

      While you may believe sex work itself is legitimate, do you believe those who participate in the exploitation and trafficking of women and children are themselves legitimate?

      If prostitution is inherently legitimate, why are panic buttons necessary in every room of a brothel? I have never been to a grocery store where every aisle required a panic button.

      If prostitution is a choice, that is – there are 2 options available to every woman participating in it – how do you feel about the statistics that put the percentage of women involved in prostitution and trafficking and their sexual/physical abuse and/or severe neglect close to and above 90%? Where exists the 2 options in a woman’s mind who was sexually abused by a trusted adult when that event and the possible continuation of that event has chemically, emotionally, mentally, and physically altered their perceptions of self, esteem, reality, ability, and worth since they were a child? Worth outside of their bodies and looks has never been presented to them.

      Do you believe that in any industry where there is a substantial, proven risk of a child being repeatedly raped for years at a time is an industry that should be supported not only by the public but by governments?

      With drug trafficking, there is a person who freely buys for various reasons under no control of another person. There is simply a buyer and a purchaser. The only exploitation that exists is the possible exploitation of someone’s physical addiction to a substance. With prostitution, there is a seller (pimp), there is a buyer (john) and there is the exploited (a human being). Are you comparing a human being with a drug?

      Are you speaking about “sex work” from research, statistics, and experience or from glamorized images used in movies, news, magazines, internet, etc?

      In the United States, the average age of entry into prostitution is 12 – 14 years old. That means that the 26 year old woman working in a brothel was, if statistics ring true, first raped, exploited and sold at a much, much younger age. Again I ask, where is her choice?

      Have you ever entered your local brothels? Talked to the pimp (owner)? Have you ever asked about how the women are treated, i.e. if they are in debt bondage, if they are allowed to leave the brothel, if they are able to keep their profits?

      Your classification of “end demand” as “stupid” seems to seek to over-simplify a broad range of ideas, could you elaborate?

      Do you have statistics and research to back up your claims about the similarities between drug trafficking and human trafficking? If so, I would love to see it.

      Do you have statistics, research, science, studies, or facts that support anything you posted or is it all your opinion?

      Do you work in the sex industry?

      You seem to be arguing that the legislation and legalization of prostitution has benefited your community – perhaps it has reduced violence against women including rape, can you post these facts and statistics?

      Prostitution has been around for a while but I would argue agriculture or hunting and gathering have been around longer. I would argue that as long as prostitution is accepted, women and children are at risk of being abused, raped, exploited, treated as objects, oppressed, controlled, hurt and harmed on all levels of human experience, that is, mentally, emotionally, physically women and children are at risk of being traumatized and victimized by people who fail to have empathy. Do you have a well-researched response to my argument?

      I have facts, statistics, research, studies, science (psychology, chemistry, sociology, medical) and the first-hand testimonies of women and children who have been a part of “sex work” to back up all of my statements and I can have them readily available to you. Do you have a plethora of those same things to back up your opinions?

      • Wow Michael! These are all great points that you can’t argue with! Haha I’m happy that there are people in the world that can accurately and legitimately state a case and support it better than I can!

      • Thank you Michael! Thanks for taking the time to cover all the bases and for not being afraid to stir the pot. You are on point and everyone that reads your article is more well-informed because of it! I hope that you are putting your knowledge to work, practically, in this fight because you have a lot of good, convincing info to share. Keep up the good work!!!

  12. Rebecca says:

    wow, thanks

  13. This article absolutely ROCKS ME!

  14. Loved this article. We talk a lot about empowering women, but I don’t think we (1) Realize how much of an impact men have, (2) Believe in their potential to exceed our expectations, or (3) Give enough credit to the ones who have really risen to the challenge to be honest men.

    Men have a HUGE role in our society. When we as women stop depending on men to be good men, we also send the message that they are not needed, and that we’re better off without them. Men, you rock, and we REALLY need your help to put and end to human trafficking! Women, let’s keep believing in the men in our lives — not just who they *could* be, but who they already *are.*

    Jewel — way to take a step toward involving men in the fight for justice in human trafficking. I hope to come alongside the men in my life and take steps toward this as well. Thank you for reminding me of how important that is.

    P.S. You might want to check the link to your website and the brochures… it wasn’t working when I checked it. 🙂

  15. Men and boys? This from the United Nations:
    “According to the Report, the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. Surprisingly, in 30% of the countries which provided information on the gender of traffickers, women make up the largest proportion of traffickers. In some parts of the world, women trafficking women is the norm.”


    Stop the gender BS. It’s going to take us all to get on this, making this a gender role and not telling the truth makes it impossible to stop.

  16. I think it might be an idea to lighten up on pornography where the models are manifestly not under-age to allow for human nature being human nature. This way young men thinking with their hormones might feel they have some sort of place to go instead of being presented with what they might see as a list of “thou shalt not”s which invites rebelling against.

  17. That was an amazing reply Michael,Thank you so much for standing up for women and children.
    You have restored a little of my faith in mankind and for that I am grateful!

  18. Over the years I have tried to raise awareness of and actively battle sex trafficking. It has amazed me time and again that men are mostly absent from any effort against this heinous crime. The times I have been in the slums of Addis Ababa or speaking at churches it is mostly women who join. Many time I have voiced my concern and frustration at being the token male ……… So where are the men, other than being the obvious benefactors of cheap thrills?

  19. Arent males victims of human trafficking as well?

  20. Unfortunately, although sex is supposed to be pleasurable for man and women, the way society is structured, women have many more responsibilities (pregnancies and child raising) and limitations (short biological clock and career roadblocks) with less financial support from society. If women were guaranteed support (food, shelter, sanitation, education, communication, transportation and health care) as they birthed and raised children (men are welcome as caregivers, but still cannot push a bowling ball sized child through their reproductive equipment) we would likely see more women who were OPEN TO THE PLEASURE of sex and not DEPENDENT ON FINANCIAL SUPPORT both at the same time. Throughout history, men have sought to limit options for women in the guise of supporting them…by attempting to control women’s bodies, men have caused “good girls” to believe that sex should be RATIONED and not given freely or entirely openly. Men and women lose out on ROCKING GOOD SEX because they want good girls to cook and clean for them and birth children who BELONG??? to the man and limit women’s emotional desire for sex.

  21. Though one in ten men have used services of a prostitute , though I believe it is actually more .I find it strange that not once does it mention to men to stop “purchasing” women. If there was no demand there wouldn’t be a need for supply. SIMPLE ! If you cant stop doing it, get help !

  22. i don’t know if my view is correct but i think sentencing every human trafficker and pimp to life in prison or death penalty depending on the severity would change the stats a bit and even though i never was to a prostitute and i don’t see myself ever going to one, if a woman or men wants to sell her or his body that’s ok, but being forced to do so is pure evil especially considering that there are girls forced to prostitution as young as 14 years and probably even younger.

    have read this on a website: Though prostitutes can be seen openly soliciting on the streets in the red-light district, police often pay no heed. Asked what role his department plays in rescuing these girls, the Bombay police commissioner says, “Prostitution is said to be the oldest profession in this world … The society has been accepting it, demanding it and then encouraging it … We are not social workers … we are law enforcers.”

    …… yeah, he kind of forgot that there is also the “protecting the people”, but whatever, i’m sure he would have said the same even if his daughter would have been reaped a few thousands times, i mean, it’s the oldest profession right ? so the old is good, last time i checked murder was also known in the middle, iron and bronze age, don’t know about stone age, but if its old its ok, right ? oh wait killing is very very bad but literally torturing mentally and physically a person until it breaks down and kills itself its ok, no wonder we sometimes think we live in hell, or at least some places really look like our worst nightmare.

    i think a global vendetta against these kinds of people is a must, my opinion, between a murder and a slave trafficker, i would chose the former 1000 times.

  23. There is definately a lot to learn about this issue. I like all of the points you made.

  24. This article is an insult to victims of exploitation. There are so many prostitutes, camgirls and models who love their work and make society healthier – and everyone being honest knows this. So when you lie to push an agenda, you trivialise the VERY REAL victims.

    Do you think sexual exploitation is a joke?

  25. I’m sorry but this post really bothers me. As admirable as these 10 points are, this article perpetuates a rather problematic myth when it uses the term “human trafficking” to only refer to “sex trafficking”. There are so many other forms of human trafficking and sex trafficking is not even the most prevalent form of human trafficking. Sex trafficking is just the one the media is most fixated on. While around half of all detected victims are female (because sex trafficking is easier to detect) the vast majority of forced labour victims are men and forced labour is actually a bigger form of human trafficking than sex trafficking.

    As someone who works in anti-trafficking, I am deeply frustrated by this trend to overlook other forms of trafficking and misinform the public about what human trafficking looks like. This has a knock-on effect that resource allocation predominantly gets directed to support female victims of human trafficking, meaning that there is poorer awareness raising, investigation, support, and rehabilitation for non-sex-trafficking, male and child victims.

  26. EXCELLENT advice and perspective. Sharing on socmed ASAP

  27. I have joined The Defenders USA with other men to stand up for our daughters and be their defenders. I made a medallion to bring attention to this tragic situation and to call our attention to the innocent victims.

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