SASKATOON – Human trafficking; it’s a dark topic. One that most people would prefer to not discuss, but it’s prevalent in Saskatoon.
“A lot of people don’t realize that there are brothels in Saskatoon. There are escort agencies. There are dancing agencies, where some of it is underlying prostitution. Bringing that awareness to light is huge,” said human trafficking victim Angela Sheriff.
Over 100 people gathered in Saskatoon on Saturday to participate in A21’s Walk for Freedom, a global initiative to stop human trafficking.
“A21 has set up the walk to be done single file and dressed in black to create a sense of unity. As we walk together, it is to be done in silence. We are the voice for those who don’t have a voice,” explained event organizer Bonnie Pauls.
In Canada, human slavery is predominately seen in young First Nations and marginalized girls who are coerced into prostitution. On average, the girls are 12 years old.
“Most girls are sexually abused at a young age. It breaks them down so they’re more vulnerable. They get the idea in their head that it’s OK for a man to abuse them,” says human trafficking victim Shelia Poorman.
Poorman was among the one in 27 million women, men and children trapped in slavery world-wide. It’s an industry that makes an estimated $32 billion annually.
Participants were doing their part to show support and take a stand.
“To defend the dignity of each human life, our sexuality is created for something much more special than to be used for purchase on the avails of those who would traffic them,” said volunteer Jodi Kozan.
A21 hopes that by working together we can rescue, restore and rebuild the lives of human trafficking victims.