Human trafficking remains to be among the most serious crimes that involve infringement of human rights. Every year, men, women, as well as children are forced to leave their normal life to work as slaves away from their motherland. This crime is common in almost every country. This crime may happen locally, within the same region, or internationally. In Canada, cases of sexual exploitation and forced labor have been witnessed where men, women and children have fallen into this crime, deliberately or coincidentally. It is the responsibility of the government to safeguard the vulnerable, deal with the crime and punish the culprits to ensure peaceful coexistence in the community. Human trafficking should be termed as a global crime against humanity, and relevant governments should take the responsibility of preventing the crime, prosecuting the culprits, and offering protection to the victims of the crime.
Human Trafficking of Men, Women & Children
Trafficking of humans has become a global crime, which has affected almost every country in the globe. Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, applying control or influence over the movements of people in order to exploit them through forced labor or sexual abuse (National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking, 2013). Some countries do not have an explicit legislation on human trafficking while others treat sex trafficking as human trafficking. Thus, they hold no certified definition of human trafficking. The traffickers buy, transport, and sell the victims like market goods, which is against their will. They are then transported to various destinations to be exploited sexually and to work as labor force. In other instances, they are exploited for their organs and sacrifice.
Most of human trafficking involves regions, that is, movement from one region to another in the same country. Geographical distance, as well as economic differences, plays a key role in the flow of human trafficking. Victims are normally transported from poor regions to rich regions. The Canadian law enforcement has identified organized crime networks that are forcefully trafficking women and children for sex exploitation within the country. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), women are the most vulnerable to this crime, followed by girls, boys, and men (Cullen-DuPont, 2009, p. 10). A significant number of adult women are cornered into this crime through fraud and trickery. They are usually informed that they would be offered jobs in restaurants, housekeeping, or modeling, once they land in the foreign country. After landing in the intended country, their passports and other identification documents are taken from them. Ultimately, they are compelled to prostitution and other bestially acts in order to survive.
A conference that was held in 2006 on Human Trafficking in Canada revealed that the modern-day slavery has positioned women trafficked into prostitution into a debt bondage (Cullen-DuPont, 2009, p. 11). In this system, a woman is coerced to pay part of her earnings to the owner of the brothels, in addition to reimburse her expenditure on food, rent and clothing. She is also obligated to pay her broker some amount of money. If she manages to repay all her dues, she becomes a free person in the foreign country. However, it is quite hard for a woman in the debt bondage to repay all her accrued expenses.
Trafficking of children normally involves exploiting their parents’ situation. Poor parents are coerced to sell their children to traffickers to get money for paying their debts and taking care of the remaining children. When uneducated children are brought in Canada, they are made to work in homes and plantations. Human trafficking among male victims is not very common, as male victims can only work in agricultural plantations or manufacturing sectors. However, young men are nowadays being driven into sexual exploitation as well.
Trends in Human Trafficking
Although the modern slaves do not match with the traditional description of slavery, the victims of human trafficking are subjected to violence, forced labor, and meager payments for their services. There exist three distinct elements of human trafficking: the act, means, and purpose, and the three elements must be present to claim that trafficking is an offense (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2012, p. 16). Trafficking humans is termed as a global crime, thus, several stakeholders have joined in to find a solution to the vice. Several reports have identified a considerable number of trafficking routes, thus, making the crime a global setback.
According to UNODC, human trafficking for sexual exploitation accounts for 58 percent of all cases that are investigated globally while 36 percent of all investigated cases involved trafficking for forced labor (Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, 2012, p. 7). Forced labor has been reported mostly in Africa, Middle East, and some parts Southern and Eastern Asia. Canada is renowned as a source, as well as a destination for human trafficking. Social service organizations in Canada claimed that more than 16,000 Canadians are trafficked every year, but they did not clarify the exact number of children who are trafficked within Canada due to the hidden nature of the crime. However, the National Royal Canadian Mounted Police (NRCMP) estimated the number of victims that are trafficked into Canada as between 800 and 1,200 (Aronowitz, 2009, p. 100).
There is a widespread belief that in Canada, both internal and external forms of human trafficking are happening within and across the country’s borders (Kaye, Winterdyk & Quarterman, 2014, p. 25). Women and girls, especially from the aboriginal communities, find themselves being driven to sexual exploitation within the country while foreign women from Asia and part of Europe are driven into prostitution unwillingly. The Canadian law does not offer adequate protection to the victims of human trafficking. Only a few convictions have been made since the signing of the Criminal Code back in 2005. The authority detains and deports the victims, as they are perceived as criminals, and not as victims of crime. Women represent the highest number of humans who are involved in this crime, as they are primarily exploited for sex.
Most labor victims use legal methods to enter Canada, but are pushed to work in processing plants while others work as domestic servants. Efforts to seek cooperation among foreign victims have proved to be extremely challenging to the law enforcement, as some victims are usually alone in the country. Without a family support, it is quite difficult to communicate with the victims. Some do not perceive themselves as victims of crime while others are restricted by language in expressing their suffering. A study undertaken from trafficked women in Canada indicated that women, who were brought to Canada under false pretense and subjected to debt bondage, could not consider themselves as trafficked victims (Aronowitz, 2009, p. 49). Others do not find the reason to collaborate with the law enforcers.
Some of the Non-Governmental Organizations in Canada are proposing for banning of prostitution as the best way to curtail human trafficking and child abuse. They believe that regulating prostitution would make it socially acceptable to practice sex for money, thus, increasing the demand for prostitutes. This will consequently result in a rise in human trafficking to cater for the high demand.
Section 279.04 of the Criminal Code has indicated that individuals can exploit other individuals if the exploited individuals believe that they are coerced to work or their lives are not safe (Legislation, 2013). The government is encouraging the victims of human trafficking to report their cases to the law enforcement. Once they report to the law enforcement, the undocumented victims are advised to seek temporary resident permits, so that they can be allowed to stay in the country.
Causes of Human Trafficking
The demand for human labor and exploitation of women has been the main reasons for human trafficking. Human traffickers engage in this crime for profit and usually take the advantage of the vulnerable groups for exploitation. According to Aronowitz (2009), numerous cases of human trafficking in the US and Canada occurred for the purpose of sexual and labor exploitation (p. 98). In Africa, human trafficking is mainly carried out to provide labor. This indicates that each region has its own motives for human trafficking.
One of the core reasons why human trafficking is rampant is poverty. In an attempt to fight poverty, men and women are lured into a trap of getting jobs abroad. The Aboriginal women and girls in Canada usually fall into this trap due to poverty in communities. The agents of human trafficking take the advantage of the situation and promise to find jobs for the poor people. In developing countries, farming is the main activity, and when the dry season persists, people become poor due to lack of alternative income generating activities.
Cultural influences make people susceptible to human trafficking through considering one gender more superior than the other (Hart, 2009, p. 19). Where male children are perceived to be more valuable than female children, families are compelled to offer their daughter for sale to get money for taking care of male children. Ethnic wars, driven by cultural influences to own land, can also compel people to leave their country or region in search of peace. When the asylum lacks enough opportunities to accommodate the refugees, the victims can devise any way to earn a living, and the traffickers come in with bogus promises.
In Canada, poor education made women vulnerable to human trafficking, especially during the migratory movements from First Nations reserves to cities (Kaye, Winterdyk & Quarterman, 2014, p. 26). Some women decide to move to the cities at their free will to better their lifestyle, but they end up in brothels, where they are sexually exploited. The desire to be educated made women and girls to fall in the hands of human traffickers, who promised them education and job opportunities after moving to the cities. Human traffickers usually engage in this business primarily due to huge profits they receive from sales of victims. The traffickers are promised good money once they manage to deliver a certain number of people to the agreed destination.
Solutions of Human Trafficking
Human trafficking exists as a network, which starts from the community up to international level. Countering human trafficking should begin from home. The greatest strength in curbing human trafficking crime is to cut the network links, as international chains rely on local sources to arrange for recruitment and transportation to their countries. Awareness campaigns should be boosted in Canada, as well as other countries that harbor this form of crime. In the countries of origin, the governments should prioritize their goals to promote social, political, and economic stability. Poor education makes people vulnerable to human trafficking; hence, governments should invest on education institutions to boost the level of school turnout.
The Canadian federal government has pledged to implement a holistic strategy aimed at tackling the root cause of human trafficking, as well as risk factors that encourage human trafficking. The strategy will assist in eliminating the levels of oppression and the damages associated with it. To reduce the occurrence of exploitation, especially to women, the government should implement monitoring programs that would check on gender equality and empowerment of women. The government should guarantee victims’ protection once they report their cases. Strengthening legislation, in addition to penal legislation, will help in curbing human trafficking.
Almost every country on the globe has experienced human trafficking and its network. Many international organizations that endeavor to eliminate modern slavery have termed human trafficking as a serious crime against humanity. This crime involves the enrollment and transportation of people with an aim of exploiting them sexually or though forced labor. Canada has been categorized as a transit, as well as a destination country where human trafficking is widespread. The extent of this crime is extremely difficult to charge due to its surreptitious nature of the felony. The victims fall into this crime due to poverty, cultural beliefs, poor education, and lack of awareness. The victims are usually reluctant to testify before the law enforcement. The Canadian government should respond to human trafficking through prevention, prosecution, and protecting the victims. The government should address economic, political, and social problems that lead to this kind of crime.
Aronowitz, A. A. (2009). Human Trafficking, Human Misery: The Global Trade in Human Beings. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
Cullen-DuPont, K. (2009). Human trafficking. New York, NY: Facts On File.
Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2012). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Retrieved on 26 February 2014 from http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/glotip/Trafficking_in_Persons_2012_web.pdf
Hart, J. (2009). Human trafficking. New York: Rosen Pub.
Kaye, J., Winterdyk, J., & Quarterman, L. (2014). Beyond Criminal Justice: A Case Study of Responding to Human Trafficking in Canada1.Canadian Journal Of Criminology & Criminal Justice, 56(1), 23-48. doi:10.3138/cjccj.2012.E33
Legislation (2013). Department of Justice. Government of Canada. Retrieved on 26 February 2014 from http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/tp/legis-loi.html
National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (2013). Public Safety Canada. Retrieved on 26 February 2014 from http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ntnl-ctn-pln-cmbt/index-eng.aspx