Human trafficking has often been described as a MODERN-DAY FORM OF SLAVERY. The BC Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking defines trafficking as “the recruiting, harbouring and/ or controlling of a person for the purpose of exploitation.”
Most often, women and girls are the main targets of sex trafficking. However, men, boys, and those who identify on the non-binary spectrum are also targeted. The average age of recruitment has been identified at around 12 years old. People are more likely to be targeted when they are vulnerable. For example, people who come from low-income brackets, who struggle with self-esteem and mental health, who are often discriminated against, or who come from minorities. Often, traffickers will develop and intimate bond with the person they are trafficking in order to use emotional manipulation and make them fear leaving their trafficker.
In 2000, the United Nations adopted an international agreement, the Trafficking Protocol, to fight human trafficking, which established a standard definition. According to this, human trafficking includes three elements:
Act: recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving people
Means: threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or abuse of power, or paying someone in control of the person
Exploitation in sex trafficking can mean being forced into prostitution, forced to perform sexual acts (including exotic dancing), and forced to participate in the production of pornography
Sex trafficking in Canada
There is growing evidence of the widespread occurrence of sex trafficking in Canada. Persons from aboriginal communities as well as minors in the child welfare system are especially vulnerable. Local gangs, transnational criminal organizations, and individuals are involved in sex trafficking in Canadian cities and towns.
In 2013, the Canadian Women’s Foundation conducted a national survey of community service providers, who reported serving a total of 2,872 trafficked girls and women in one year. Canada does not currently have a standard system for tracking incidents of sex trafficking: national, coordinated research is necessary for sustainable data collection.
The exact number of people trafficked in Canada is difficult to determine because trafficked persons are often reluctant to come forward. Some of the reasons a trafficked person may be reluctant to ask for help include:
Fear: Traffickers use threats of violence, actual violence and sexual assault to instill fear. Often, internationally trafficked persons fear deportation if they go to the authorities. Traffickers also threaten violence to family members if the debt is not repaid
Debt Bondage: Many people who have been trafficked owe money to their traffickers for transportation, visa fees, food or drugs. They are told they cannot go free until the debt is paid. The amount is often arbitrarily increased so that the debt bondage continues.
Dependency and Isolation: The trafficked person likely has no family or social network. Surroundings and culture may be unfamiliar and they don’t know where or who to turn to for help. The trafficker may forbid conversation and keep moving the trafficked person from place to place so they cannot get to know anyone. The trafficker may take away identity documents and provide drugs or alcohol to complete the dependency. Children are particularly vulnerable to extreme isolation.
Trauma bonding: This occurs when a person develops positive feelings towards their trafficker, usually caused by being isolated and being controlled by the trafficker.
Shame and Guilt: A person who has been trafficked may feel too ashamed by their experiences to ask for help. It can be particularly acute for males because it not commonly recognized that they also can be trafficked
Global efforts against sex trafficking
The United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. The Trafficking in Persons Protocol establishes the most widely accepted international framework to fight human trafficking, especially of women and children.
Canada ratified the Trafficking Protocol in 2002 and is committed to developing laws and programs to implement it. The Trafficking Protocol requires countries that have ratified it to focus on three main areas, referred to as the three P’s:
Protection — Protecting and assisting those who have been trafficked.
Prevention — Preventing and combating human trafficking.
Prosecution — Prosecuting the traffickers.
In addition, Canada’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking recognizes a fourth P – partnerships.
Partnerships — Partnership is the promotion of cooperation among countries in order to effectively meet the goals of Protection, Prevention and Prosecution.
Additionally, many governments are taking action to protect high-risk persons from trafficking predators. Human trafficking is a serious criminal offence in Canada. Both the Criminal Code of Canada and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act criminalize all aspects of human trafficking.
Canada's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking consolidates ongoing efforts of the federal government to combat human trafficking and introduces aggressive new initiatives to prevent human trafficking, identify survivors, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators. The National Action Plan aims to better support organizations providing assistance to survivors, and it builds on our current responses and commitment to work together with our partners to prevent and combat this disturbing crime.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based anti-trafficking groups are working hard to prevent sex trafficking, protect vulnerable populations, lobby for policy reformation, and even rehabilitate survivors both at local and global levels. Fight4Freedom is an active part of this community who hopes to raise awareness of sex trafficking and to see the end of this issue.
How you can help fight sex trafficking?
You can join us in our fight to stop sex trafficking and end modern-day sex slavery by VOLUNTEERING in our ongoing outreach or administration ministry areas, committing to PRAY for survivors, PARTNERING with us in raising awareness and advocating for policy reform, and/or DONATING to Fight4Freedom to help fight the injustice of human trafficking.
Join us in fighting for freedom and the end of sex trafficking.