I thought the sale of human beings ended with the abolishment of slavery in the 1800’s. I was wrong. The sale of humans continues and has been deemed the slave trade of the 21st century.
I thought human trafficking was a European and developing world problem. I was wrong. According to the United Nations virtually EVERY country in the world is impacted and this includes Canada.
I thought in Canada, the sale of human beings involved foreigners who were falsely lured to Canada for a job. I was wrong. 90% of victims are Canadian born. 50% are indigenous.
I’m wrong A LOT.
The sale of human beings is a global problem and the scale of its growth is alarming—it’s the fastest growing industry in the world. This fact does not restore my faith in humanity. Like many, I cannot imagine inflicting such cruelty on another human being. But for organized crime, small family criminal groups and independents it’s all about money. Unlike drugs which are gone as soon as they’re sniffed up a nose or shot up the arm, a person can be sold over, and over again. It’s all about money.
What's being done?
Police and community associations have been tackling this issue for years and fortunately, human trafficking is slowing starting to be on the public’s radar, but it still has a long way to go. Part of the engagement strategy of anti-trafficking non-profits such Polaris and ECPAT-USA, is to enlist the support of organizations who are unwillingly part of the trafficking chain.
According to Detective Sargent Tramontozzi, head of Toronto’s sex crimes unit, “90% of human trafficking, if not more, occur in or involve a hotel.” As hotels are the ‘preferred venues’ for traffickers, hotel chains such as the Marriott are starting to train their employees to spot human trafficking and internal procedures are in place for reporting to the authorities. To date, Marriott has trained over 500,00 employees worldwide. Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham are also on board.
Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, is also passionate about combatting human trafficking. The association distributes a list of human-trafficking indicators to hotel management, so that they can share with staff.
In December 2018, Toronto Crime Stoppers partnered up with Uber the ride-hailing app. Their drivers have also been mobilized to spot the signs of trafficking and are committed to help end the transportation of trafficked people.
The anti-human trafficking awareness campaigns have gained some momentum but what can the rest of us do? Well, we can talk about this issue to colleagues, friends and family members, we can write our local member of parliament to see what is being done to resolve this issue and, we can recognize the signs. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), there are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking it’s usually a combination of the following indicators:
How would I recognize a victim?
Where would I find...
A victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?
Victims may be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
A victim who has been trafficked for forced labour?
Victims can be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
What can I do?
I don't want to be wrong about the abolishment of slavery. For once, I would like to be right…let's work together to generate awareness about this horrific crime. Talk about it. Tell someone what's happening in our backyard.
Should you suspect an individual is being trafficked, the police urge the public not to take matters in their own hands and to contact them or Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Activist, World traveller. Fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.