Last year, on this very day, I heard a story I will never forget; it was one of the most difficult stories I’ve ever heard. The story was about a seven year-old boy from the Philippines named Maarko. Like any other boy, Maarko loved superheroes, and his favorite was Superman.
As I watched Maarko’s story, I heard him say, “I want to be like Superman and protect my sister from the bad guys.”
And then his next sentence pierced me.
“If I ever meet Superman, I would want to ask him one question. Did he ever have to hurt the ones he loved the most?”
The startling truth hit me: Maarko was a victim of cybersex trafficking. The bad guys were pedophiles. And Maarko was forced to hurt his sister, the person he loved the most. (Today, Maarko and his sister are free! Watch their story).
Maarko’s story made me think about all the boys and men who are victims of human trafficking today.
At Catalyst, we have been called to serve single moms and female survivors of human trafficking. But we by no means want to neglect or silence the countless male survivors. These men and boys are just as important to us. They are just as valuable to us.
In reality, men and boys are subjected to commercial sexual exploitation just like women and girls are. In reality, men and boys even outnumber female survivors in certain categories of trafficking. In reality, men and boys experience the same pain. They experience the same violence. They experience the same suffering. And they deserve the same compassion.
These are just a few of the facts:
- Thousands of young boys, some as young as seven years-old, are exploited as slaves on Ghana’s Lake Volta every day (24 Boys Rescued on Ghana's Lake Volta).
- In Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Europe children—both boys and girls—are recruited as child soldiers through force and abduction.
- Over 42 percent of victims of state-imposed labor exploitation are male (Human Trafficking: What about the Men and Boys?).
- As many as 50% of commercially sexually exploited children in the United States are boys. Thankfully, safe houses are beginning to be set up for these boys! (Meet Two Millennial Founders Opening A Safe Home For Male Survivors Of Sex Trafficking)
Those are the facts, but think about the faces. Think about the faces of each man and boy. We cannot overlook or under-serve them. Our ministry has specifically been equipped to serve women, but these boys and men are equally important to us.
So today, we ask that you would specifically remember and pray for boys like Maarko. Maarko’s story reminds us that in the midst of the darkest kind of evil, love can still overcome and bring freedom. And his story reminds us that beyond being male or female, survivors of human trafficking are first and foremost human. They are precious human beings created in the image of God. And we owe them all our love.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Maarko’s story is a sad depiction of how the internet can be used as an instrument for extreme evil. But today, we want to use the internet as an instrument for good. Please LIKE and SHARE this post, so others can be made aware of the existence of cybersex trafficking. Together, we can overcome.