This morning I attended an online press conference for Benjamin Perrin, author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. The book tour begins today in Toronto, and the sold out events across the country are a clear indication that there is a growing tide of awareness about the issue in Canada. Here are some highlights from this morning:
- Human trafficking cases have occurred across several cities, including Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax. Smaller towns and rural areas are unfortunately not exempt.
- Trafficking victims fall into one of three categories: foreign sex trafficking, forced labour trafficking, and domestic sex trafficking.
- Of foreign victims, 74% are women. 6% are minors. Â 42% are victims of sex trafficking while 46% are used for forced labour. Less than 10% came forward on their own or with a lawyer to immigration authorities. Most were identified by police.
- 59% of victims came from Asia, 33% from Eastern/Central Europe, 4% from Africa, and 4% from South America. China, Moldova, the Phillippines, and Romania were the top source countries. Some women are brought in from war zones.
- Victims have been found in ‘micro-brothels,’escort agencies, massage parlours, stripclubs, and being advertised on Craigslist. Since Craigslist took down their exotic services section in the U.S., the ads have slowed down to a trickle (as seen in graph). As a graph shown in the conference revealed however, Craigslist erotic service ads in Toronto and Vancouver have shot up. This must be brought to an end as Craigslist is a tool regularly used by traffickers.
- The estimated revenue annually for one Canadian victim of sex trafficking is $280,000.
- Ontario is the top destination province for trafficking victims. Currently it does not have a provincially mandated body to coordinate services. An Ontario Coalition Against Human Trafficking must be created.
For more information, check out Perrin’s website and order a copy of Invisible Chains. And if you are one of the lucky people who snatched tickets to one of the book tour events over the next couple of weeks, I would love to know about your experience!