A new video aims to raise awareness of human trafficking along the 400 highway corridors in Ontario.
On Tuesday, as part of International Day to End Trafficking in Persons, officials launched the ad campaign at 12 OnRoute rests top locations. The 14-second video shows young women having fun while travelling, advising them of ways to seek help such as a national hotline and the hashtag #knowhumantrafficking for social media.
The ads are also aimed at people who may witness potential victims of forced prostitution or labour.
It’s estimated the ads have the potential to reach 16.5 million views. The campaign — spearheaded by Courage For Freedom — involves numerous women’s help and support groups, OPP, the province and volunteers.
According to Courage For Freedom, a charity that serves girls, teens and young adult women in need of support, the average victim of human trafficking is 13-and-a-half years old and that 66 per cent of human trafficking victims report starting on the 400 highway corridors.
Seventy-two per cent of victims are 24 years old and under; 68 per cent are 18 years old and under.
Sixty per cent of those trafficked in Canada report it started in Ontario, Courage for Freedom states.
“We want these ads to show our communities the truth without glamorization, shame and objectification of girls and women (boys and men) who are victims of a crime,” stated Courage For Freedom Founder Kelly Franklin.
“It is the desire of every survivor that true images would allow more of the public to get involved and not be afraid to make the call. To show viewers where to look for more information, the provincial hashtag #knowhumantrafficking is included in the ad.”
One ad launch was at the OnRoute between Port Hope and Newtonville along Highway 401, and included a brief visit from Premier Doug Ford.
“As we all know it’s a very silent crime,” said Port Hope Mayor Bob Sanderson. “Today we’re using our collective voices to make a difference.”
Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini echoed that sentiment.
John Henry, regional chair and CEO of Durham Region, says education and awareness are key to combating human trafficking.
“This is such a heinous crime that it shouldn’t be about human trafficking, it should be about crimes against humanity,” he said.
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To report incidents of human trafficking, sexual exploitation or forced prostitution, call the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
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