It is one of the fastest-growing crimes in Canada despite being under-reported.
Human trafficking has had an impact on virtually every community in Ontario according to Fight4Freedom – a group advocating to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation, and offering help through the healing process.
“In 2016, at nearly five times the national level, the rates of police-reported human trafficking were highest in Ottawa and Halifax (both 4.7 incidents per 100,000 population). Other Ontario CMAs of Hamilton, Barrie, and London, as well as the Quebec CMA of Gatineau, reported rates of human trafficking more than double the national level”Stats Canada
Mik – an advocate with Fight4Freedom in Barrie – says anyone can be trafficked, though women and girls are over-represented, as are indigenous people and those in the LGBTQ community.
“One of the biggest risk factors is wanting to be loved. And who doesn’t want to be loved? Every human being wants to be loved.”Mik – Fight4Freedom
Anyone who is marginalized or discriminated against is a likely target.
Traffickers, says Mik, prey on the needs of an individual.
In Canada, 80 per cent of traffickers are male. In a third of cases, they are a romantic partner of the victim.
But trafficking is not limited to the sale of sex.
A high profile case was uncovered last February involving 43 Mexicans lured to Canada with promises of work permits and education. They were farmed out to locations in Collingwood, Innisfil, Oro-Medonte and Cornwall as cleaners. Their wages were controlled by their traffickers and their living conditions were sub-standard. A man and three women have been charged.
In addition to labour and sex trafficking, there are human trafficking cases around the world that involve organ removal and domestic servitude
Recognizing the signs of human trafficking
One of the reasons human trafficking is under-reported is fear. “Traffickers use tactics of fear, intimidation, blackmail, abuse; there are all sorts of factors why an individual might not report,” says Mik.
Human trafficking is also difficult to recognize. Victims sometimes don’t know a crime is taking place.
The Ontario government website has a list of signs and indicators at https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/humanTrafficking/index.aspx.
And helpingtraffickedpersons.org offers a 10-hour training course to help identify people who may be victims. There’s also a 24-hour hotline to call – 1-833-900-1010.
Barrie Police have an initiative called Project Safe Horizon which focuses on the victim and their safety.
Businesses can partner with Fight4Freedom to create internships for those exiting a situation. The organization has also been mobilizing this month through is FabFeb 2020 program – a month-long fundraiser to help raise funds and awareness. It encourages people to wear a bow tie, bold lipstick, a ribbon in their hair – anything to start a conversation.
Others can advocate for change by helping educate the community (volunteers are always welcome at Fight4Freedom).
Human Trafficking Statistics
1. Human trafficking is “the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour”
Public Safety Canada. (2019). Human Trafficking. Government of Canada.
2. It has been estimated that over 40.3 million people are trafficked annually (International Labour Organization. (2017). Forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking. International Labour Organization.
3. 70% of people being trafficked globally are women and children (International Labour Organization. (2017). Forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking. International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm)
4. 25% of individuals who are trafficked are children
International Labour Organization. (2017). Forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking. International Labour Organization. https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm
5. Sex Trafficking involves individuals being forced into various forms of sexual exploitation, including providing sexual services, exotic dancing, working in strip clubs, and in the production of pornography.
Department of Justice. (2017). Victims of Trafficking in Persons: Perspectives from the Canadian Community Sector. Government of Canada. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/tp/rr06_3/p3.html
6. Sex trafficking can occur in massage parlours, strip clubs, brothels, on the streets, in hotels, AirBnBs, or people’s homes.
Barrett, N., & Shaw, M.. (n.d.). Laws to Combat Sex Trafficking: An Overview of International, National, Provincial, and Municipal Laws and their Enforcement. Canadian Women’s Foundation. See PDF
7. 99% of people trafficked for sexual exploitation are women and girls International Labour Organization. (2017). Forced labour, modern slavery, and human trafficking. International Labour Organization.
8. 50% of people caught in sex trafficking say they were forced into pornography at one time
Beck, J.. (n.d.). The Link Between Pornography and Human Trafficking. EverAccountable.
feature image via Pixabay