Jan 13, 2022
the unlawful act of transporting or coercing people in order to benefit from their work or service, typically in the form of forced labor or sexual exploitation.
When we hear the phrase human trafficking most of our minds go to shipping containers or crossing borders. It is often confused with human smuggling; however human smuggling generally is consensual and once the person is across a border they are free to do what they will. Human trafficking usually happens within the country’s own borders, but the trafficked person does not have free will.
How does it happen? Sex traffickers approach potential victims pretending to be a potential boyfriend or friend, contacting them through social media or even threatening or kidnapping them. Once they are recruited, they are then isolated or transported until they are ultimately forced to provide labour or a service.
Victims are most often females who are exploited for sexual use or used for forced labour. Those most likely at risk are indigenous women and girls, migrants and new immigrants, LGBTQ2 persons, persons with disabilities, children in the welfare system or socially/economically challenged individuals.
In 2019, police reported 511 human trafficking incidents in Canada. These numbers most likely are low, as it is difficult to compile statistics due to the hidden nature of the crime. This also means there are low prosecution rates. A very high percentage of the victims are women and children and most of the accused traffickers are men. Victims don’t come forward to the police for many reasons including not knowing they are a victim, language barriers, fearful of law enforcement and threats to their families or loved ones. Those trafficked for labour are also fearful of putting fellow workers at risk.
How can you recognize someone who is being trafficked? Learn the warning signs and become aware of the indicators. Speak up! Talk within your circles about it. If you suspect it is happening to someone you know, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline that is available 24/7 in a variety of languages at 1-833-900-1010, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
The following resources offer further information: