Calling All Men to Action: Let’s End Sexual Exploitation & Trafficking!
I may have already lost many readers with this title. “Ostriching” is the term I use for the reflex to avoid wanting to know more about something that you see as dark, depressing, and not impacting your own life. I would challenge you, however, to read on and listen to these powerful episodes and to share them with men in your life. Dads, brothers, uncles, friends, neighbors – pay attention to this call to action!
I’ve been moved to make a difference on this topic ever since I met Conroy Kanter, a Hollywood producer (Conroy Kanter on Facebook and Instagram; Trafficked Instagram). Her film, Trafficked, made me realize that this 150+ billion-dollar industry is closer to our lives than we think. Before this point, I thought sex trafficking was an overseas issue. I have since learned that no city in North America is immune to trafficking. Did you know that the FBI says there are over a million predators prowling for victims online daily? Sex trafficking is now much more in the public eye due to high profile cases like Jeffrey Epstein/Ghislaine Maxwell, but we still have a long way to go to end this vile crime.
These two episodes shed light on this dark topic through the wisdom and experience of a true leader and advocate: Alan Smyth. He is the Executive Director of Saving Innocence based in LA, focused on helping child victims of sex trafficking. Saving Innocence is a 24-hour organization that saves child victims of sex trafficking and works to help these children get their lives back, as long as that takes. He has recently tackled one of the biggest necessities to ending this horrible business: the role of men in fighting for girls and women, and how authentic masculinity is key.
Can you tell us in simple terms what is sexual exploitation and trafficking and what society needs to know is happening here?
Sex trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, which we need to first acknowledge is happening. According to Alan Smyth, it requires a lot of very broken people to get to the point of treating human beings as “sub-human”, like commodities to be bought and sold. Preying on the most vulnerable in our society, exploiting them for their own benefit and financial gain. The most vulnerable are children and those are the focus of Saving Innocence’s work.
“One of the speakers at an event was telling the story of her trafficking and explained how five months in she wanted to give up and she needed someone to fight for her. This was the call-to-action Alan needed to focus on men being the solution to solving this problem.”
Tell what led you to publish Men! Fight for Me?
Alan Smyth explains how most of the buyers and sellers/traffickers are men. Yet at events raising awareness on this topic, the attendees are mainly women. One of the speakers at an event was telling the story of her trafficking and explained how five months in she wanted to give up and she needed someone to fight for her. This was the call-to-action Alan needed to focus on men being the solution to solving this problem. Boys as young as 15 or 16 would be old enough to read and learn about this important topic. You can get this book at fightforme.net Note: all profits go directly to the survivors who bravely share their stories in this book.
What can we do to make a difference?
Chapter 8 on looking in the mirror talks about small and big things people can do to make a difference, including things you can do today! It’s all hands on deck, including both small and large efforts.
What is authentic masculinity and who are your greatest role models (either alive or passed on) in this regard?
Alan Smyth lives by practicing the following pillars (described in this book): Accepts responsibility, leads courageously, lives a life of service (serves his family and community), and understands who he is on the inside (his character).
This is a tough and horrific subject matter. How do you stay well and not let it consume you with cynicism and lose faith in humanity?
“I try to keep in perspective, thinking in terms of the survivors like my co-author Jessica who has had more trauma in a single day than I have in my whole life. Yet I do lose nights of sleep from some of the more horrific cases I see, which is a form of vicarious trauma. I value self- care and we all take a week off every quarter at least, as well as month long sabbaticals to reboot and refresh.”
“I want to challenge everybody to take another step forward to do your part in raising awareness and ultimately ending sexual exploitation and trafficking.” – Alan Smyth
What is one book and one podcast you’d recommend to help people learn more sex trafficking?
Alan recommends the following to learn more from survivor stories:
- “In Pursuit of Love” a memoir by Rebecca Bender
- “Scars & Stilettos” by Harmony Grillo
- Ending Human Trafficking podcast by Dr. Sandie Morgan
How would you describe the call to action you want to leave people with? What’s your wish for a better world based on your book?
“I want to challenge everybody to take another step forward to do your part in raising awareness and ultimately ending sexual exploitation and trafficking.”
About Alan Smyth:
Currently Alan serves as the Executive Director for Saving Innocence, an anti-human trafficking, community-based organization focused on child victims of sex trafficking. Based in Los Angeles, Alan has responsibility over Direct Services and Business Operations. His main focus includes budgeting and resource development, strategic partnerships, staff development and client services.
You can learn more about Saving Innocence at www.savinginnocence.org.
“Fight For Me” are words he heard directly from a survivor of sex trafficking. Alan’s unique view into this tragedy has given him a backstage pass to this horrific exploitation of children. Co-authored by Jessica Midkiff, herself a survivor of child trafficking, this book speaks directly to the hearts of men and our responsibility to step up and take leadership in the remedy.
Alan’s greatest achievement is being married to Sharon for 37 years and being Dad to Brittany, Trevor & Daughter in law Katy!