Sex trafficking – part 3 What can we do about it?
by Jack Taylor
Cathy Peters, a former high school teacher and now advocate against sex trafficking, says “I have been shocked that Canadians do not believe human sex-trafficking happens here and that Canadians do not believe it could ever happen in their families. I am surprised that Church folk are so bubble-wrapped and have no idea about this issue at all.”
It might surprise western Canadians how far behind they are in recognizing and addressing this issue of sex trafficking. Peters says, “the more I speak, attend workshops, research and read, I am learning that BC is at least a couple of decades behind ‘best practices globally’ in Ontario.” The Trafficking in Persons report from the USA state department cites Ontario as best practices.
MP, Joy Smith, in Manitoba, has alerted her province effectively. Nova Scotia – with their infamous North Preston Finest Gang – has become very pro-active in addressing the crime. Law enforcement seems inconsistent in enforcing the law on this issue across the country. Progressive laws, modeled after the Nordic Model of Law in Sweden, recognize that the root cause of the problem is demand. “Sex buyers, facilitators and traffickers (pimps) are criminalized. The seller of sex is considered a victim and is not criminalized and there is supposed to be robust and well-funded exit strategies to help victims get out of the sex trade.”
Canada’s Federal Law (The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act) has not been publicized in any kind of National Public Awareness Campaign and there seems to be little government support for the law. In fact, there is some clear hint that left-leaning parties would like to fully decriminalize prostitution. This green lighting of the sex industry would see brothels become a standard part of every community.
Peters fears that Canada could become like Germany where 80 percent of men are said to buy sex compared to the current 6-7 percent in Canada. Sex tourism would become the norm. “Our indigenous women and children would be the first casualties, human and child sex trafficking would explode, international crime syndicates would move into Canada.” The recently-released Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Inquiry cited the overwhelming problem of human sex trafficking among indigenous females as a problem which political correctness has hindered from being addressed.
Some of the indicators of human trafficking given by Peters, include the reality that might be seen in an individual’s working or living conditions where she, or he, as a young person with limited freedom to move and is involved in the commercial sex industry, working long and unusual hours. They may have a large debt they can’t seem to pay off; the working premises have high security measures with opaque windows, bars on the windows, security cameras and perhaps even barbed wire; they may be fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous, avoiding eye contact; is not in control of their own documentation and may not speak for themselves in public settings like a doctor’s or lawyer’s office.
What should followers of Jesus do? Peters says, “the number one way to show care and love to those victims is to believe them, get them to share, tell their stories and to get help. For example, when I speak to high school students I give a three point plan:
1. Say no to anything that has to be done secretly, no matter how tempting. If you cannot let your parents or trusted adults in your life know what you are doing, it could be putting you in danger. And never send nudes on cam. You can never retrieve them. They are considered child porn, which is illegal.
2. Get help to deal with what is happening in your life right now. Recruiters look for victims who are struggling. By getting help, you are reducing your risk.
3. Always tell. They are the criminals, not you. The only way to defeat recruiters, pimps and sex-offenders is to bring what they do in the dark out into the light. Find someone you can trust to tell.”
Some of the questions an observer should ask themselves if they are concerned about whether a person they see is being trafficked: Is the person free to leave the work site? Is the person physically, sexually or psychologically abused? Does the person have a passport or valid I.D. card and is he/she in possession of such documents? What is the pay and conditions of employment? Does the person live at home or at/near the work site? How did the individual arrive to this destination if the suspected victim is a foreign national? Has the person or a family member of this person been threatened? Does the person fear that something bad will happen to him or her, or to a family member, if he/she leaves the job? Peters says, “I would like to see good men and good women step-up to address this issue. The sex industry is powerful, well-financed and growing while aggressively targeting our youth, children and the vulnerable to be the supply for an undeterred demand. We need this to change. Evil triumphs because good men (and women) do nothing.”
We need to give the next generation hope/resiliency to live in a world that is trying to normalize the sex industry that degrades men and women. We need to show our young people that there is a better way to live and to show them the beauty of healthy wholesome relationships.