Victims of Trafficking in Persons: Perspectives from the Canadian Community Sector
This study is one of the few studies of its kind in Canada. The researchers hope that it will constitute a meaningful contribution to long-term policy development in the area of protecting the rights of trafficking victims and to ensure that gender issues are considered within any policy framework.
Trafficking in persons is a hotly debated issue, both internationally and nationally. In Canada, the phenomenon is embedded in the complex intersection of human rights, the ever-increasing gap between rich and poor, the feminization of poverty, illegal and irregular migration movements, and the long-lasting impact of the colonization of Aboriginal peoples.
It has to be highlighted that the study was conducted within a very short time frame. Notwithstanding this constraint, our call for participation in the study was generally met with enthusiasm; workers welcomed the opportunity to talk about the issue, share their experiences and concerns, and have their voices heard in the development of a comprehensive policy framework initiative.
Many of the respondents had never directly considered internal trafficking as an issue, inasmuch as the population they serve comes for the most part from outside Canada. Given that Aboriginal people were one of the target populations of this study, special focus was accorded to it. The difficult socio-economic situation of Aboriginal peoples is reflected in the fact that a majority of people trafficked within Canada are Aboriginal women and children. Another disturbing finding is that children constitute the most vulnerable population, and that they are the ones most difficult to reach since they are usually confined within homes or other closed environments.
The respondents in this study have indicated specific needs that must be addressed if solutions and preventative and protective measures are to be effective. The secrecy surrounding trafficking, the illegal movement of people, the relationship to organized crime and new criminal networks within and outside Canada provide some indication of the depth of the problem. Researchers expect that this study will not only make a contribution to further discussion on the issue, but will also provide key information to officials within the Canadian government seeking to intervene in a positive manner to help trafficked persons and punish the traffickers. It is also our hope that organizations will find the information presented useful in their endeavours to provide services to this vulnerable population.
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