Human trafficking: an uncomfortable truth in Canada
A 28-year-old mother of three from St. Catharine’s, Ont., after breaking up with an abusive boyfriend, met a man on Facebook who promised her a rich and comfortable lifestyle if she would work as an escort at Private Genies in Toronto. As the Toronto Sun reported, the mother was inadvertently drawn into the world of sex trafficking with the promise of earning money to support her children. She finally called the police and escaped after the man got angry and decided to take her to a family associated with a biker gang.
Human trafficking, the use or trade of humans for forced labour or prostitution, is a disheartening concern in Canada. The United States State Department estimates that 800 people are trafficked to Canada per year and 1,500 to 2,200 are smuggled through the country on the way to the U.S. In its April 2009 report, Human Trafficking: A Report on Modern Day Slavery in Canada, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada noted that human trafficking is the second most profitable crime in the world after the international drug trade. It is often linked to the sexual exploitation of women and children. The USSD further stated that “the 2006 UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children report to the UN concluded that prostitution was inextricably linked with human trafficking and to support prostitution is to inevitably support the trafficking of women and children.”
Lately, Canada has started to take a tougher stance against trafficking. Bill C-268, a private members bill introduced by Conservative MP Joy Smith (Kildonan-St. Paul), received royal assent on June 29, instating a minimum five-year sentence for trafficking minors in Canada. The previous human trafficking law, passed approximately five years ago, imposes a maximum sentence of 14 years for traffickers. Because there were no mandatory minimums, traffickers were handed lenient sentences. An example is Michael Lennox Mark, who was jailed for one week for trafficking a 17-year-old girl and procuring three others as prostitutes because his year of pre-custody time was counted as double. “We had hoped that when courts began sentencing child traffickers, they would recognize that as a very serious factor, but that has turned out not to be the case,” said Benjamin Perrin, a trafficking expert who helped draft Bill C-268, to the Toronto Sun.
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The story of this young woman is similar to the millions of women around the world that are taken advantage of in a vulnerable state of mind. I often discuss this issue with my girlfriends and they ask understandable questions like, “why would they meet someone on the internet and actually trust them?” or “why didn’t police know this was happening?”
The answer I usually respond with is that in most places in the world women face many pyschological affects that cause them to fall into traps such as this one. With a track record of untrustworthy men in their life, they are weary of men, however they are often hypnotized by men who promise them a better life.
In addition, when women are in families where they are the provider they have added pressure to do something to live a better life. I imagine these women have no other choices that can help them put food on the table. I imagine I would do anything to care for my family and if I was vulnerable and beaten down from a history of pyscological and physical abuse, I can imagine I would accept the offer this woman did.
The trafficking problem around the world is a shady, manipulative business that is a huge global issue. Many government or law enforcement officials in other parts of the world are equally as vulnerable and if they are paid to keep quiet, they will do just that in some cases. As far as this woman’s experience being sex trafficked in the U.S., she was lucky that she had an opportunityto speak with a police officer who lives in a country based on freedoms. Had she went a police officer in Indonesia, the officer may not have helped her.
This leads me to my concluding statement that, in this country, we are the lucky ones. By God’s own will we are American citizens with more freedoms than we even know we have. In my opinion, it is our duty as free young people to speak out against this horrific reality of slavery. If we continue to live our lucky lives and close our eyes to those whose freedoms are robbed from them, then what is our purpose? Why, after all, did God choose US to be the lucky ones? My best quess is because we need to make a difference.