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National Human Trafficking Awareness Day — Part 1

February 22nd has been designated in Canada as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to take steps to combat human trafficking.

Leading up to this day, we will be sharing information to help raise awareness of this somewhat invisible crime in Canada.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking (sex, labour, and organ trafficking) involves recruiting, transporting, harbouring, or receiving a person, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, for the purpose of exploitation. In the case of minors, any commercial sex act is trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud, or coercion is involved. Exploitation can occur without trafficking.

Sex and labour trafficking are the two dominant forms of human trafficking in Canada.

To help youth-serving organizations better support youth who may be at risk of, are currently experiencing, or are survivors of human trafficking, CHV developed the Pivoting Practice: Building Capacity to Serve Youth Impacted by Trafficking toolkit.

This toolkit aims to increase CHV’s capacity to identify, understand, and support youth impacted by human trafficking and/or exploitation. The development of the toolkit included a literature review and consultation with survivors, anti-human trafficking organizations, and organizations that serve youth across North America, and was    funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada.

Labour Trafficking

At the end of the toolkit, there are Youth Awareness Material resources that cover your rights as a temporary foreign worker in BC, information to help you discern whether or not you are a victim of labour trafficking, the indicators of labour trafficking, as well as what constitutes consent, and your rights.

In Canada, the rights of all workers are protected by law.

Your employer must:

  • Ensure that your workplace is safe — emotionally and physically
  • Give you break time, sick days, and weekly days off
  • Provide you with a written contract and respect the terms of this contract
  • Pay you at least minimum wage ($15/hour) and record extra hours worked (overtime)
  • Follow BC Employment Standards rules and expectations of employers

Indicators of Labour Trafficking

Some of the indicators are:

  • Feel pressured by their employer to stay in a job or situation they want to leave
  • Owe money to an employer or recruiter or are not being paid what they were promised or are owed
  • Do not have control of their passport or other identity documents
  • Are being threatened by their boss with deportation or other harm

Are You a Victim of Labour Trafficking?

Migrant and low-wage workers are exploited in legal industries such as restaurants, hospitality, trucking, agriculture, construction, live-in caregivers, retail, and nail salons.

The toolkit breaks down the actions, means, and purpose of the trafficker to illustrate what the trafficker does, hoe they do it, and why the trafficker does it.

This section also comes with contact information, should you suspect trafficking.

Sex Trafficking

Also contained in the are Youth Awareness Material at the end of the toolkit is information around sex trafficking.

Some Elements of Sex Trafficking

Luring

  • Abuser will establish a connection
  • Abuser will do things to build trust

Grooming

  • Abuser forms a bond with the victim and works to build a false sense of trust
  • Abuser will identify and fulfill the needs and dreams of the individual

Isolation and Control

  • Abuser created distance between the individual and their loved ones
  • Abuser controls as many elements of the victim’s life as possible

Manipulation and Coercion

  • Abuser will use gifts given and needs of the victim to keep them coming back
  • The trust originally built can make it hard to see the abuse that is now happening
  • This is how a victim is manipulated into doing what the abuser wants
  • Through conditioning — sex tied to rewards of any kind

Exploitation

  • The purpose of trafficking is to exploit a victim by using them to obtain money, power, or status
  • Trafficker builds up the notion that the victim owes them, not only in money but emotional currency
  • Trafficked persons usually know their abusers. Traffickers can be family members, a pimp, an intimate partner, or an employer, to name a few

What Is Consent?

Only “Yes” is consent. There is a list of circumstances in the toolkit, that some people may misinterpret as consent.

Statistics

Statistics Canada released statistics for the year 2020, of people who were trafficked in Canada.

Here are some highlights of the findings:

  • Police services in Canada reported 2,977 incidents of human trafficking—that is, recruiting, transporting, transferring, holding, concealing, and exercising control over a person for the purposes of exploitation—between 2010 and 2020.
  • During this time, 86% of incidents of human trafficking were reported in census metropolitan areas, compared 58% of violent incidents overall.
  • The vast majority (96%) of detected victims of human trafficking were women and girls.
  • Just over half (52%) of all human trafficking incidents had no accused person identified in connection with the incident.
  • The large majority (81%) of persons accused of human trafficking were men and boys.

Help raise awareness, break the stigma of those who are or have been trafficked, and let youth know that they are seen and are worthy of love and support.