The Flesh Trade - Part One Video Transcript

Narrator: They are concealed, hidden away from the world. Kept captive. Forced to satisfy strangers. It’s a place where innocence is traded for profit. Young women and men bought and sold for sex.

[Scene of people walking on city sidewalk]

Woman speaker: Like, the one thing when you do this job, you can’t lose sight of who you are. You’re a different person when you walk in the room. If you forget to do that, you get lost and you don’t even know who you are anymore.

[Camera zooms in through the window into a hotel room]

Narrator: An industry based on deception, manipulation, coercion. It’s a dirty secret, but the flesh trade is finding a home in this country.

[Man sitting in a chair in hotel room, looking at a laptop computer, and talking on the phone]

Man: Natalie, I just got into town and I’m looking for some company.

Narrator:  Human trafficking is a very real and very uncomfortable truth in our city.

Police officer: I don’t know anything more dangerous than what we’re doing here.

Narrator: The undercover detective and his vice partner spend night after night recruiting girls to hotel rooms.

Police officer [on phone]: Hi, Dalia. How are you?

Dalia [on phone]: I’m good. How are you?

Police officer: Good. You busy tonight?

Narrator: The intent isn’t to arrest them, but to protect them.

Detective Lee Trent (Calgary Police Vice Unit): It’s like showing them that there are other doors that they can open outside the hotel rooms.

Narrator: Sometimes that means reminding them what’s a risk.

Female police officer [talking to woman sitting on bed in hotel room]: So, God forbid anything ever happened to you, who would we notify?

Detective Trent: There’s no sugar coating it, there’s no glamorizing it. If a victim and an individual that cares nothing about this person other than the fact that at the end of the day, you need to bring me money.

Narrator: They rarely earn enough to buy their own freedom. Instead, they face violent repercussions.

Natalie: When it happens, you like panic and then you think about it. You know and then it’s just the next call.

Narrator: And that’s the sad truth. Constantly in demand, she is the commodity. Traffickers have the kind of greed that cannot be satisfied. They earn on average $280,000 for each victim under their control.

Natalie: You can’t leave and you can’t stop if you wanted to. There’s a deadline. You know what I mean? Like, 50 G’s and another 50 more.

Detective Trent [looking at internet web page]: We’ve got Jenna 24, Sasha, open minded….

Narrator: The exploitation has gone even deeper underground making these traffickers hard to catch. The business is mostly online.

Detective Trent [reading from internet web page]: New to the business, new to the city, 19 years of age. Red flag.

Narrator: Images clog the internet. Streams of ads drive authorities to search the internet for underage girls, those being held against their will. Some, as young as 12.

Detective Trent [driving in police vehicle]: Two of the girls staying at two different hotels. It’s a 24/7 operation. These girls also had someone in the background, “If you’re tired, I don’t care.”

Narrator: Calgary Police intervened and rescued those women, taking them to a safe house.

Liz Gibson (Safe House Manager): The majority of them are broken. They’re done. Some of them don’t want to be living anymore. Some of them have been badly beaten.

Narrator: Once they’re ready to escape, they need a place to run to.

Liz Gibson: It’s hard when somebody phones me and pleads, “I need to come in. I need a bed. I need somewhere safe. Please, I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be with another six guys tonight. I can’t do it.” And if I don’t have a bed, I don’t know where…. It’s really hard.

Narrator: Those in the business of giving them a sanctuary say it’s about time society takes the blinders off.

Marina Giacomin (Servants Anonymous Society): There is a brilliant opportunity for all of us know to start educating people across Canada about this issue in particular.

Narrator: But there’s not true scope in how big this issue is. Researchers say it’s almost impossible to quantify because few ever come forward.

John Winterdyk (MRU Professor and author): Whatever will that they had was stripped from them and they had no reserves to fight. Their basic essence was one of survival.

Narrator: And that is something that cannot be ignored.

John Winterdyk: The unfortunate fact is, and it’s something that the general public is very naïve about, is that we have a very serious problem.

Narrator: Jill Croteau, Global News.

Announcer:  Now, Jill, you’ve spent a lot of time researching this story.

Jill Croteau: Yeah, that’s right. We spent close to a year tracking this. A lot of these women have been shamed into silence, so it was clearly a real struggle finding some of them who would be willing to share their stories. We travelled to Vancouver and Toronto to talk to front line agencies and even survivors, all in hopes of giving this issue some deserved exposure.

Tomorrow, our series continues. We’re going to take you to the Downtown Eastside where some of these women wind up falling further into the trap. We also hear from a mother whose daughter was manipulated and sold into the sex trade and her brave journey to find her.

Announcer: Thanks, Jill.

Jill Croteau: You’re welcome.

Announcer: Now, also online you’ll find extended video of the vice unit’s sting and you can watch it as all unfolds. Also, the complete interview with Natalie, a single mother, who gives us a sobering perspective on the flesh trade. You’ll find both online extras along with Jill’s story at globalnews.ca/calgary.