Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, harboring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. It is often described as a modern form of slavery.
According to Statistics Canada's latest figures:
- Cases of human trafficking soared from a couple of dozen across the country in 2010 to 340 in 2016. Because it is a crime that’s easier to hide, it is very difficult to track so these numbers are likely much higher.
- Over 90 percent of the girls being trafficked in Canada for sexual exploitation, were born here, and experts suspect there are thousands of them.
- Although they represent a mere four per cent of the population, nearly half of the trafficking victims were Indigenous women and girls.
- Girls and young women from all socio-economic backgrounds are hunted in malls, coffee shops, movie theatres, outside their schools and, increasingly, online. The victims are often too afraid or ashamed to tell anyone, or may not even realize they’re being exploited.
- The average age at which exploitation begins is 13; the average age of rescue, if a girl is rescued at all, is 17.
Given these figures, one has to wonder why there isn’t more public outcry.
It seems that this is partly due to the unfounded belief that it’s something that only happens to in big cities like Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver.
The fact that these crimes get more press coverage in those cities, doesn’t mean that they don’t happen in Saskatchewan.
- In January 2020, four people from B.C. were charged with human trafficking in Saskatchewan after they were apprehended on Highway 1 heading towards Swift Current.
- In December 2019, a 23-year-old woman accused of recruiting three women for the sex trade in Saskatchewan and Alberta was charged in court.
This is a very real crisis that is happening right now in many communities.
Although it’s difficult to track victims across provincial and territorial borders, law enforcement has stated that there is a pattern or “city triangles” such as Saskatoon-Edmonton-Calgary, known routes along which victims are shipped that often include stops close to resource industries which have a large, transient and mainly male workforce.
If you or someone you know may be a victim, call Canada's national human trafficking hotline at 1-833-900-1010.
Other local resources available in Saskatchewan are:
Domestic Abuse Centres