Human Trafficking: The Reality

Citizen World News: February, 1, 2019

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There are a lot of sensationalized ideas about what Human Trafficking really is.  Most people think of Liam Neeson in his hit movie Taken when his daughter is kidnapped and brought into the sex-trade. But it is so much more complex than that. It is a world-wide problem and it isn’t stopping anytime soon. As i sat in the courtroom this week watching the victims of a sex-ring that was busted you saw the innocence that was taken from the victims and you saw the betrayal and hurt they felt. It is something they will never forget and it is something that i will never forget watching them and listening to what pain and suffering they had to endure. Usually it takes up to 3 years to just start recovering where most don’t recover at all.  Human Trafficking also known as “Modern Day Slavery” and a majority of people don’t realize how common it is and how big of a problem it is. It is the 3rd largest crime next to guns and drugs. It is an industry where it controls people in many ways such as psychological manipulation, emotional abuse, lies, addiction, threats, violence, isolation, taking control of ID, documents and money. About 50% of traffickers are from street gangs and 50% of traffickers work alone. Globally there is an estimated 27-32 millions individuals in human sex trafficking. In one part of Vancouver alone in the month of January, there were 40 men arrested for underage sex trafficking.

“The game” and “the life” as they also call it is different from consensual sex-work, in trafficking situations the trafficker is in full control and the individuals who are in their control have absolutely no say. In most scenarios, the sex traffickers purposely develop a special bond with the person they are trafficking, in order for them to have another way of thinking an manipulating them and making them truly believe that they are better off staying than leaving the situation. It is also known as the “boyfriend effect”, they’ll say things such as “if you come live with me, i’ll take care of you. If you come work for me, you’ll always have a job”. This effect makes it less likely that the victim will report.

The Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott released a report in December where it states in that report “while trafficking is commonly associated with the foreign victims crossing international borders, recent charges and convictions indicate that the vast majority of victims in Canada (over 90%) are trafficked domestically (i.e. all stages of the trafficking occur within Canadian Borders). The report reads “human trafficking for the purpose of exploitation has been found to be the most common form of trafficking in Canada, with Ontario functioning as a major hub”. It is a significant problem in Ontario. Victims, mostly women and children in Canada are deprived of their normal lives and forces to provide labour or sexual services through a variety of coercive practices, all for the direct profit of the traffickers.

Predators are usually targeting Canadian females who have unmet core needs. That would include housing, unpaid bills, additions or even intangibles like wanting to be loved, belonging, acceptance and security and the traffickers offer to meet those needs. Traffickers will hangout at places to recruit. Some of these locations would be malls, movie theatre, restaurants, coffee shops, schools, airports, train stations, gas stations. They try to sell the dream to the young girls. These predators will often employ a cycle of reward of punishment where they’ll treat you well and meet your needs and then the next day they’ll treat you horribly to meet their own needs. It’s a psychological game. They know exactly who they want to target and they really don’t care about the age or background. Age recruitment is roughly around 12 or 13 years old and they will specifically target youth who struggle with low self-esteem, bullying, discrimination, poverty, abuse, isolation and other social and family issues.

That being said victims of trafficking come from various backgrounds such as Foreign Nationals. They can be trafficked in another country first before arriving in certain locations in Canada thinking they have a legitimate job offer. They see professional, legitimate job advertisements and think they are coming over here for a better life but once they are here they aren’t working that legitimate job, they are now property of the pimps, they can’t speak their own language and their Identification is taken away from them.

There are typically five warning signs that appear in trafficking situations. One, age difference. Typically not a huge one, there still a power balance between 14 year old girl and an 18 year old boy. Secondly, gifting where the victims get free drugs or alcohol, car rides and usually a free cell phone that will have a GPS in it. Thirdly, isolating them from their friends and family. Number four would be carrying lots of baby wipes, condoms or other hygiene products. Lastly, your gut feeling. Noticing the little things such as different behavior, what is on their social media, spending lots of time on the phone. If you see this stuff report it, or else it’ll never end. As of lately, hotel staff have been put in seminars where it trains hotel and motel staff to look out for the signs and suspicions of human trafficking.

Remember human trafficking doesn’t just happen in the big cities. It can happen in very small towns such as leeds and grenville. Rural areas are a prime recruitment area for human trafficking. People are being transported up and down the highs 401 and 416. Is it still on the rise.

Human trafficking is a serious crime and it affects victims in many ways. Victims often blame themselves for the negative actions taken against them. The traffickers often instil self-blame in their victims, which allows them to gain control, manipulate, and begin to coerce others into performing actions against their will. It is important to understand that the trafficker is the perpetrator of this crime.

If you are interested in more facts or know someone who may be a victim of human trafficking visit the Ontario’s Strategy To End Human Trafficking.