When you think of human trafficking, you may picture over-crowded caravans or ships, and you may see it as something that happens far away. The reality is that sex trafficking happens right here in our own communities across Canada, and it can happen to someone close to you.
To help shed light on this growing, yet often-misunderstood crime, February 22 has been designated as Human Trafficking Awareness Day. This is a critical event to help bring awareness to the magnitude of what is often referred to as modern-day slavery in Canada.
What is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking is the unlawful recruitment, transportation or holding of victims in order to exploit them or help someone else exploit them, typically through use of force, threats or coercion.
Trafficking can take the form of exploitation for labour or sex. Young people may be particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking based on a variety of circumstances, including unstable family lives, past trauma, insecurities, and lack of knowledge about how trafficking occurs.
While 90% of victims are female, young men are often targeted as well. The average age of victims is 17, but they can be as young as 13, and as young as 8 for Indigenous girls.
Putting an End to Sex Trafficking in Canada
While sex trafficking can happen to anyone, marginalized, low-income and homeless youth are among the most vulnerable. Covenant House strives to intervene to prevent sex trafficking before it begins, and provides community tools, education and training to empower our community to join the fight against sex trafficking.
Our dedicated staff advocates and services can be a lifeline to young people fleeing their trafficking situation. At Covenant House, we’ve been working with survivors of sex trafficking for forty years. In our 2020-2021 fiscal year alone, we supported 122 victims of sex trafficking and connected them with the services that they need.
While awareness of sex trafficking in Canada is growing, there is still a lot of work to do. Many Canadians don’t realize or believe it can – and does – happen to our children.
Visit Traffick Stop for more resources, and to learn how you can help us fight sex trafficking.