The government has launched a National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking…now it’s your turn.
The government has launched a National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking…now it’s your turn.
Earlier this month, Jay and I were at a family reunion in a Northern Ontario town. One evening a bunch of us decided to go for a walk at sunset along the shore, but had to cut through a few neighbourhoods to get there. On the way we came across two teenage girls waiting at a bus stop, both holding adorable puppies. It is nearly impossible to restrain me from petting adorable animals, and I charged ahead to say hello.
What happened in those next 30 seconds deeply grieved me.
As I was being kissed all over by the two sweet canines, one of the girls said, “I’m dressed like this because I work at a club…you know, more tits more tips.” As I was still processing this, the other girl, who was dressed in flip flops, a sweater, and track pants, looked at us and immediately began to apologize for the way she looked, explaining that she didn’t usually go out in public wearing slobby clothes like that.
We chatted with them for a little but and went on our way, all of us reflecting on what we had just witnessed. I am grateful to have a husband, brother-in-law, and father-in-law who deeply value and respect women, and we began to talk about the encounter.
I was saddened by the fact that the first girl, at such a young age, had a job being ogled by men at a night club. I was sad that her dreams were being bought out by tips for exposed skin instead of being honed and developed in an environment of true love. Jay was most saddened by the fact that the second girl felt she needed to apologize for the way she looked. He felt sick that a beautiful girl would feel shame in his presence because she was wearing comfortable clothes and no make up.
In hindsight, I wish I had stopped for longer. Learned their names. Heard more about their lives, their dreams, their fears. Spoken encouragement and truth into their lives. Told them they were beautiful and had so, so much value. But the moment had passed. I am trying to get better at catching these moments, not letting an opportunity slip by to speak a word of love into the life of another.
On some level we’ve all experienced feelings of inadequacy, insignificance, or worthlessness. Instead of being part of a society that promotes these, how can we become shapers of culture who break these down? What can we do to ensure that girls and women do not base their value on how much skin they show or how much makeup they use to hide their true selves?
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Most of you have probably heard the shocking story in the news of three teenage girls in Ottawa who have been charged with trafficking other teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17 for sex. This CBC clip brings up some good points about this case.
When I first heard about this, these were the questions that came to mind:
It is quite common for traffickers to use their victims to recruit others. Since most sex trafficking victims are female, and because women are more likely to trust other women, pimps can recruit more victims in a more invisible, risk-free manner.
This would never have happened if it had not been profitable. If men were not willing to pay for sex, the market for flesh would dry up. The news loves to focus on supply when the issue is demand.
As my friend Jennifer Lucking from Walk With Me pointed out in this article, technology is a vital part of pimping and exploitation. The victims were lured through facebook. Parents need to be aware of their children’s online friends.
What do you think about this? If these teenage girls are found guilty, what kind of punishment is suitable? Should they be punished at all? How do you think we can protect kids from falling prey to these types of situations without robbing them of free will completely? Do you think a 15 year old is capable of pimping without outside involvement? Would love to hear your comment below.
Whatever unfolds over the coming weeks, this case is a reminder to us that there are cracks in our society which young boys and girls can falls through, and it is our responsibility to prevent those vulnerabilities. Please, would you consider making a Personal Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in response to this horrific and sad trafficking case?
Thanks to the petitions many of you filled out and sent in, last week a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking was launched by the Canadian government! I am excited about this for the following reasons:
I will not dive into the details of the Plan now (you can read it for yourself here). Instead I want to challenge you with this:
How easy is it to criticize the government’s efforts or to say that they are not doing enough, while shying away ourselves from doing anything to deal with an issue? We criticize the government for overspending, while we ourselves carry the debt of our materialism on our shoulders. We claim that the government is inefficient while we waste time on facebook. We blame the government for not taking care of society’s needs, while we spend all our money and time on ourselves instead of volunteering or giving to those in need regularly. I know I am guilty of this.
So, let’s use the National Action Plan as an inspiration to make the fight against trafficking personal. In essence, YOU get to be the Prime Minister of your own life and your own community, and YOU have an opportunity to use your funds and your time to make a difference! Choose one (or more) of the ’4 Pillars’ that resonate most with you, and start drafting a plan. But before you read some ideas below, ask yourself these two questions:
Once you’ve written down these answers, take a look at the different areas you can invest your time and money!
Sponsor a child in a country where lack of opportunity results in vulnerability. Teach your sons to respect women, and don’t shy away from awkward conversation topics like pornography. Switch to fair trade products (ie coffee or chocolate etc). Spend quality time with your kids, and really get to know them (traffickers often prey on those who don’t have a strong support system at home). Organize a trafficking awareness event. Invest in our documentary project that seeks to inspire and equip governments and individuals to make good laws and wise choices. Make a KIVA microcredit loan to help people create a livelihood for themselves.
Sponsor a sex trafficking survivor. Cover a day’s/week’s/month’s expenses for a safe house. Have a gift card drive at your community, church, or office, and send them to victim aftercare services that can use them for necessities. Learn to identify victims of trafficking. Donate your time or money to victim hotline. Get to know your neighbours (I had victims of human trafficking living on my street and didn’t even know it). Volunteer your expertise to organizations that need help writing grant applications, or with graphic design, or counselling.
Support and push for laws that empower police officers to do their work well. Show up in court for human trafficking cases when they are open to the public, to be a friendly face for victims who are testifying against their abusers. Consider a career in law enforcement.
Organize an anti-trafficking event for your community and invite different groups to attend. Network, network, network. If you know business leaders, ask them to consider partnering with an anti-trafficking organization to support them financially. Research the work of different organizations.
Here’s the deal. We are ALL different, and play different roles in the fight against sex trafficking. Some of us can make a personal pledge of 1 hour and $5 per month to fight for the cause, while others can pledge 40 hours and $500 a week…and every combination between! The point of this is not to make you feel inadequate or guilty. The point of this is to help you form a plan so you can actually carry out what you want to do. We make plans for every other part of our lives, how EXCITING is it to make a plan to make a difference in this world?!
Below is my very rough Personal Action Plan. It is customized to take into account the fact that I have a full time day job, love to spend time with my husband, and want to make sure I have enough money to support some other things that are not related to this cause. Please do not feel that yours needs to look the same as mine, I just want to give you an example!
Do you know what’s great? When you commit a set amount of time and a set amount of money ahead of time, investing in the fight against human trafficking becomes an honour instead of a burden. I have a feeling the $500 I pledged here to support initiatives outside of Hope for the Sold this year will end up extending beyond that figure, but it is good to have a number that is non-negotiable.
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you came up with your own Personal Action Plan, and if you are comfortable, I would like for you to share it with me via the contact section. If you want to keep this private (as I have kept some components), that is totally fine too! I would recommend sharing these with someone in your life who can hold you accountable.
If we want to bring exploitation to an end, we must stop expecting the government to do everything, but take ownership ourselves as well. That makes for an unstoppable movement!
I recently had an insightful conversation with Saskia Wishart, who is based in Amsterdam with Not for Sale and fights human trafficking and exploitation in Europe. She mentioned that in the Netherlands, pimps who masquerade as loving boyfriends are known as ‘lover boys.’ Here is a well-done, informative short documentary about this trend. It really sheds light on how men themselves end up entering the world of pimping.
What did you think? Did you learn anything? Did anything surprise you? Would love to know your thoughts below.
Here is a message from MP Joy Smith:
I am absolutely thrilled to share with you the announcement of a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking that was made today by Minister Vic Toews and Minister Ambrose in Ottawa, Minister Blaney in Montreal and myself in Surrey, BC. I am excited that Canada is taking strong steps towards the elimination of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad.
As many of you know, I have been committed to the development of a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. In 2007, my Motion M-153 which called for Canada to develop a national strategy to combat human trafficking was unanimously adopted by Parliament. In 2010, I released a proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking called Connecting the Dots. I shared this with the Prime Minister and key Cabinet Ministers. This was followed by the commitment by Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada in the 2011 election to develop a National Action Plan.
Today, one year later, this promise has been fulfilled with the launch of a robust and clear National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.
You can also read the full National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking online here.
I want to especially thank the tens of thousands of Canadians who took time over the past two years to sign petitions and write to Members of Parliament. Your voices have been heard!
However there is more to be done. One of the key part of the Plan focuses on participation. Over the next year, key parts of the National Action Plan will be put into place that encourage citizens to join with law enforcement and victims services to prevent modern day slavery and rescue victims. Together, we can end modern day slavery!
Joy Smith, MP
Kildonan – St. Paul
Here are some highlights of the National Action Plan. The National Action Plan will:
These new measures totalling $25 million over four years build on and strengthen Canada’s significant work to date to prevent, detect and prosecute human trafficking, such as targeted training for law enforcement officials and front-line service providers, and enhanced public awareness measures. To date, the RCMP is aware of 23 cases in Canada in which human trafficking charges were laid and the accused have been convicted of human trafficking and/or other related offences. 42 accused have been convicted in these cases and 56 victims have been saved from the hands of the traffickers. Currently, approximately 59 Canadian cases involving 98 individuals accused of human trafficking offences remain before the courts. These cases involve a total of 147 victims.
I am so excited! You can read the full National Action Plan here.
Defend Dignity works to abolish prostitution in Canada by advocating for law reform and resourcing churches and individuals to get involved. This week Defend Dignity is putting on a city-wide information forum and is bringing in special guest Trisha Baptie, founder of Honour Consulting & EVE, who will share her story as a formerly sexually exploited woman.
WHEN: Friday June 8, 2012 from 7-9pm
WHERE: Bayview Glen Church, 300 Steeles Avenue East, Thornhill ON L3T 1A7
I will be attending this event and would love to see you there! In the meantime check out defenddignity.ca to learn more.