AZMen is deeply entrenched in the fight against human trafficking, but not in the way you might expect. Their mission doesn’t involve recovering women from human trafficking. Instead, AZMen works to prevent it by rescuing boys and men before they become buyers of commercial sex.
AZmen is a non-profit organization dedicated to “leading Arizona to protect children.” Or, as they call it, “resetting the culture.” It is about eliminating the boys-will-be-boys mentality that has excused exploitation and abuse of women—even girls— for years.
AZMen reports that 99% of buyers of commercial sex are men. So, while AZMen does support and work with initiatives to recover women and children from human trafficking, AZMen is mainly committed to “providing positive character and building leadership for men in [their] communities.”
Stop Human Trafficking
“You can order women like you order a pizza,” advocate, Kathleen Winn, told the Non-Profit Journal radio show.
Kathleen Winn is the executive director of AZMen, and she says women who are forced into the human trafficking industry—forced, because most do not choose the life—only live to age 34 on average. It is the most dangerous profession, followed only by owning a liquor store, law enforcement and then the military.
AZMen is a partner of the Arizona Anti-Trafficking Network, along with Arizona Legal Women And Youth Services (ALWAYS) and Training and Resources United to Stop Trafficking (TRUST). These organizations are working to raise awareness, and together, reset the cultural norms society has created.
Winn says those cultural norms are the root problem. She traces the progression of human trafficking back to the normalization of using sex to sell a product. Think of those GoDaddy and Carl’s Jr.commercials that have debuted during the Super Bowl in recent years (though a controversial Carl’s Jr.’s advertisement was pulled from the network lineup, and rightly so).
Winn says this normalization feeds into the pornography industry, which encourages participation by excusing it as a young man’s rite of passage. And eventually, as he becomes desensitized to pornography—or believes it’s acceptable—Winn explains his next step is to act on those “rites of passage.”
These cultural norms are what drive buyers and sellers of commercial sex—and keep women in rooms and children in massage parlors to be repeatedly sold for men’s pleasure—for rape.
“We have to interrupt this,” said Winn. “AZMen is taking up the charge.”
AZMen is resetting the culture, on a mission to change those cultural norms and redefine manhood. AZMen is taking manhood back by supporting and protecting women and children in Arizona communities. The pledge on the AZMen website is clear:
We recognize our responsibility to raise mentors and act as role models for the next generation of AZMen. We will be steadfast in the effort to protect women and children.
Join the Reset
If you’re not in Arizona—or if you’re not a man—you can still be involved in resetting the culture.
First, know the issue. AZMen can bring a presentation to your organization, group or community and provide opportunities to reset the culture in your community.
Learn about the problem, but don’t stop there.
Find the anti-human trafficking organizations in your state or community. If there isn’t one, consider starting one in your area.
Begin resetting the culture by being a positive role model for those younger than you and by fighting for justice for the enslaved. It’s time for justice in all our states.
For Arizona, AZMen is leading the charge.