Human trafficking is a vicious crime that Linda Bey’s law class at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School has focused on this semester. Her students believe education is the best weapon for awareness. Students were asked to draft editorials on the issue of human trafficking, a problem that many Canadians don’t realize exists in our own country. Here are a selection of the editorials written by Bey’s students.
By Ezra Yirgu
Imagine a young girl answering a newspaper ad to fly overseas to become a nanny for the summer. When her airplane lands, she is seized by three men and told she owes $3,000 for her arrival expenses. She is ordered to earn money as a stripper and prostitute to pay her captors. Over the next three months she is raped and threatened with death before she manages to escape. Now imagine that girl is your daughter.
Human trafficking in Canada has become a significant legal and political issue, and Canadian legislators have been criticized for having failed to deal with the problem in a more systematic way. In 2005, it was estimated that between 600 and 800 people were trafficked into Canada annually, and that an additional 1,500 to 2,200 people were trafficked through Canada into the United States.
It’s something we think only happens in faraway places and developing countries. Human trafficking is the buying and selling of human beings. It is a modern term for slavery. To be forced to be a human sexual slave is like domestic violence, kidnapping and rape, experienced repeatedly on a daily basis. It is a harrowing experience that most victims cannot easily escape. These victims are not mere numbers and statistics: they are wives, mothers and daughters. They suffer horrific mental, physical and sexual abuse during their captivity.
Since human trafficking entails moving people throughout the world, each of us has a responsibility to do what we can to help. It could mean getting more educated, joining an organization or campaign, and writing to your local government representatives. The victims require immediate and long-term help, and cannot get it without funding and assistance. You can donate your time or money to an agency doing this vital work. This needs to be stopped.
By Berenice Alvarez
Human trafficking is merely the modern-day form of slavery, that continues to grow at an alarming rate. In Canada, human trafficking is just as common as in any other country in the world. Many Canadians are unaware of this form of slavery that is occurring in our very own backyards.
Victims from across the world are trafficked into Canada for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. A case in Vancouver saw children being trafficked from Honduras into the Vancouver area to run drugs. In May, 2010, it was reported that in 32 cases of trafficking, victims under the age of 18 were in fact Canadian. It is also reported that First Nations youth are a particularly vulnerable part of the Canadian population.
Imani Nakpangi was the first Canadian to be convicted of trafficking a 15-year-old for sexual exploitation, and essentially spent less time in jail than he did exploiting her. In the two years he spent exploiting her, he made over $350,000, was only sentenced to three years, and was credited 13 months for pre-trial custody. As a result of these inadequate punishments, Bill C-268 was introduced to amend the criminal code and introduce a minimum sentence for offences involving trafficking of persons under the age of 18. On June 29, 2010, the bill was made law. However, human trafficking continues to grow. The many forms of human trafficking must be halted not only in Canada, but also all over the world.
By Pauline Artieda
Human trafficking has been a national issue in Canada for years. Victims of trafficking are not only Canadians, but also newcomers. In Canada, there are two forms of trafficking: forced labour and sexual exploitation. The majority of the victims are women, many of whom are under the age of 18.
Timea Nagy (a former victim of trafficking and founder of the Walk With Me victim services organization) said human trafficking is very rampant.
“Human trafficking is happening in Toronto every single day, right now as we speak,” she said. “Look around at the hotels, motels, restaurants, massage places. Human trafficking is all around you, it’s just not seen.”
The Canadian government and police set aside millions of dollars to combat human trafficking. They have been putting efforts into stopping it, however, their efforts don’t seem to be enough. Government strategies alone are not enough to stop and prevent human trafficking. The public must also be educated and aware. The majority may think that it’s not a serious issue because this is Canada; however, the number of human trafficking cases is increasing.
Recently Nagy, together with 500 others, took to the streets of Toronto in a campaign against human trafficking, and to raise funds for the victims and for awareness of the people. Such activities are considered helpful in educating the people in order to stop human trafficking and to help the victims.
Not only do people need to take action in their communities, but also nationally and globally. People around the world should be aware of such issues, especially those who are planning to work overseas. This is because a big percentage of the victims are immigrants or newcomers. Many of those are ignorant of the business and they are the ones fooled by human traffickers.
Actions on solving human trafficking must also be global. We may think it is hard, but through the help of modern technology people all over the world can work hand in hand solving this issue. Media such as magazines, music and videos can help in informing people wherever they are. Human trafficking is a global issue, therefore everyone is involved, and asked to take part in solving it.
By Robi Joe Butay
Human trafficking has been one of the biggest threats to Canadian Society, but a majority of Canadians fail to realize or even notice this. The government has not been actively informing its population of the many dangers that are present in Canada, and have done very little to stop it altogether.
Every year, 600-800 people are trafficked into Canada, and about 1,500 to 1,800 people are trafficked out of Canada and into America. For years, Canada has been used both as a source and a destination for men, women and children. People are the second-most trafficked ‘thing’ in the black market, with drugs being first.
Canada has failed to realize the severity of human trafficking, finally recognizing it as an official crime in 2004, and even then, the minimum sentence for committing this crime was three years. The punishment of treating a person as a source of income did not fit the crime, and still doesn’t today, even after the minimum sentence has been raised to five years.
Human trafficking is modern slavery. Canadian society must become more educated on this very dangerous, yet rapidly growing industry of trading people away for exploitation. Canadians must take action if we are to fully rid our country of this threat, because if we don’t, thousands of families will be affected, and we will be forced to live in fear.