Human sex trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in Canada, according to the government but there isn’t a lot being done about it.
In recent years, the Leeds and Grenville County have seen a rise in human sex trafficking and they are concerned.
Const. Sandra Barr from the Leads County OPP says, “it’s not just limited to what somebody might think of big city activity like Toronto, no it’s small towns as well.”
So the Leeds and Grenville County decided to hold a conference and shed more light on the topic.
“We’re hoping to achieve a level of awareness of what human sex-trafficking, the fact that it’s going on in all the communities across the province,” says Laurie Scott, MPP Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.
The conference brought school boards, the OPP, addiction and mental-health institutions, and assault and victim care centres all under one roof. The agencies learned about signs to identify traffickers, education tips to implement in schools, prevention techniques and future steps for victims.
Victims of human sex-trafficking can take up to three years to start recovering and most of them never fully recover.
“We’ve had a lot of interactions that range the victim not recognizing that it’s happening to them and in a lot of denial, to folks that have tried to leave more than once before and this time are determined to do it this time for good,” says Sonya Jodoin, executive director at Victim Services of Leeds & Grenville.
In Canada, the average age of a victim of human trafficking is 14. The Victim Services of Leeds and Grenville have seen victims as young as 11 years old and up to the age of 39 years.
Traffickers tend to target a certain type of personality.
“They look for vulnerabilities. Once they find the vulnerabilities, they exploit them — that could be somebody that is feeling that they don’t have close connections with friends or family, or are feeling isolated,” says Jodoin.
Ninety-three per cent of human sex-trafficking victims in the country are Canadian-born.
The good news is the awareness on this issue is slowly bringing change. This past February, the House of Commons passed a motion to dedicate Feb. 22 as “Human Trafficking Awareness Day” in Canada.