What About the Boys?19 Nov 2010, by Uncategorized in
SO, WHAT ABOUT THE BOYS?
When Ajay was 15, he came to Calcutta to take a 6 month carpentry course at our partner agency Apne Aap. When the course ended, Ajay refused to return home. "If I go back there, I will be forced to sell my sisters and my mother," he stated frankly. "I will sleep on this agency’s doorstep if I have to. But I can’t go back there". Ajay comes from a region in Northern India where intergenerational slavery has been practiced for hundreds of years. The Nutt community was a courtesan caste and circus performers in the 1800s. Now they struggle with desperate poverty, trafficking, and crime in India’s poorest state – Bihar. Almost every girl is trafficked into prostitution at a young age. Having seen another way of life, Ajay knew he could no longer bear this injustice. He was given temporary housing in Apne Aap’s office and drop in center. Now 18, he works there as a security guard – I was so happy to see this young man thriving when I visited in August. Ajay’s refusal to perpetuate the cycle of slavery and abuse illustrates one of the problems facing boys in slavery – without intervention, they face both the risk of exploitation, and the risk of being forced to become traffickers themselves.
Women and girls make up a majority of the world’s 27 million slaves, and represent 95% or more of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. Because they are often denied education and because of gender discrimination and a lack of job options, poor girls are often at high risk for trafficking. For all these reasons, many of Made by Survivors‘ programs focus on women and girls.
However… When boys are trafficked, they too face tremendous trauma, physical or sexual violence, malnutrition and dehumanization. They need extensive services to build strong, safe and happy lives rather than continuing the cycle of abuse. Boys around the world are trafficked as child soldiers, for forced begging, for forced labor in agriculture, mining, quarries and industries such as carpet loom weaving, and for sexual exploitation – particularly child sex tourism.Thankfully some of our partners and programs address the unique needs of boy survivors and high risk boys. 60 of our school sponsored children are boys, and in addition to Apne Aap, many of our other partners and programs offer housing, vocational training and drop-in centers for boys
Brotherly, Sisterly, Motherly Love Saves the Day
In Nepal, our partner Apple of God’s Eyes runs five shelters for boys and girls who are survivors or who were living on the streets at extreme risk for exploitation. The program was originally designed to help girls only, but after a few years, the girls living at AOGE came to Director Silvio Silva to plead the case for their brothers: "Silvio-uncle, we are so grateful to be here, but… how can be completely at peace when we know our brothers are still on the streets?" Silvio saw their point and responded by going with the survivors to rescue their brothers, and creating a safe house for them to grow up next door to their sisters. Made by Survivors sponsors 15 boys and girls from AOGE for school, and also supports the income generation program through the sale of AOGE beautiful handmade rugs.
Nepali Princess Home faced the opposite situation. Founders Ranjit and Sarah Kunwar originally felt called to help the many boys living almost feral on the streets of Kathmandu’s Thamel tourist district. They set up a shelter home and school sponsorship program for the boys. Then, in 2006, some girls in their community and church challenged their approach: "Everyone in Nepal forgets about us girls," they sadly said, "but we need help too". Ranjit and Sarah scrambled to set up a temporary shelter for girls in a room of their church. 30 girl survivors are now living there, and they have created a successful employment program for the older girls and young adults. Made by Survivors sponsors 10 of these girls for school, and supports the job program through the sale of beautiful Princess Home jewelry products.
In Uganda, many very young boys were trafficked as soldiers in Uganda’s brutal civil war. Tragically, they were often forced to kill a family or village member as part of their initiation, causing them to be ostracized from their home community. Others have been orphaned in the war.
Mothers and guardians of these boys are often raising 10 or 12 children, including their own offspring, and also relatives or abandoned children who were child soldiers or girls trafficked as sex slaves and domestic servants by guerrilla groups. In the Rwot Omiyo project, women are using the revenues from the sale of their magazine beads to Made by Survivors to send these boys and girls to school. Alice (a mother in the program who is also a victim of rape as a tool of war) explains:
" In order for Uganda to recover and to change, all the children need to be educated. The boys need to learn another way, so they can grow up to men who honor and protect women. Only then will we all know peace"