The Prevalence of Human Trafficking in Canada
Although the exact number of people trafficked in Canada is unknown, there is growing evidence of the widespread occurrence of both international and domestic trafficking.
In Canada, information from community members and police investigations suggest that those who are most likely to be trafficked are Canadian girls and women exploited for sexual purposes.
From Canada's National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, we know that:
"In Canada, human trafficking often takes place in large urban centres, and also occurs in smaller cities and communities, largely for the purpose of sexual exploitation. We know that men, women and children fall victim to this crime, although women represent the majority of victims in Canada to date. More generally, those who are likely to be at-risk include persons who are socially or economically disadvantaged, such as some Aboriginal women, youth and children, migrants and new immigrants, teenaged runaways, children who are in protection, as well as girls and women, who may be lured to large urban centres or who move or migrate there voluntarily."
More recently, increased evidence of human trafficking for forced labour has come to light. Investigations of such cases have occurred across the country with charges being laid in Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. Labour related intelligence and investigations have involved foreign nationals, both male and female, from the Philippines, India, Poland, China, Ethiopia, Mexico, Thailand and Hungary.
In addition, there are indications that some foreign nationals are illegally transported and subsequently exploited by the employers as domestic servants.
Obtaining cooperation from foreign victims has been particularly challenging for law enforcement. Foreign victims who were trafficked are usually in the country alone, without family or a support system, and may be obstructed by language barriers. Also, they may not always see themselves as victims of human trafficking. In most cases, they are skeptical of police and see very little value or nothing to gain from cooperating with police.
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