Types of Human Trafficking

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Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking occurs when individuals are forced, manipulated, or coerced into commercial sex acts by a trafficker. The trafficker retains all or most of the money/goods obtained through the exploited individual.

The trafficker is usually known to the individual through family, friends, acquaintances or romantic relationships. Traffickers can also make connections with individuals they intend to exploit through places such as emergency shelters, group homes, schools, social media and online gaming.

Traffickers may build close relationships with the individual by providing friendship, hope, loyalty, affection, promise of emotional support, physical or financial protection, and a place to live. Traffickers may also introduce, or provide, drugs and alcohol to inhibit an individual’s ability to assess risk and leave unsafe situations. In addition to making individuals feel safe and loved, traffickers often use threats of abandonment, isolation, physical and sexual violence, homelessness, financial damage, withholding basic needs and destruction of personal items, such as government identification, to coerce the individual into commercial sex acts. Traffickers may control individuals by threatening harm to their children or other family members, exposing acts of sex trafficking on social media, or having the exploited individual arrested for criminal acts or drug use.

When individuals find a way to escape or end the relationship with their trafficker, they may choose not look for support, report the crime or pursue legal action for many reasons – such as:

  • the individual may not recognized they were trafficked
  • feel shame, guilt and embarrassment
  • afraid that family and friends will abandon them once they know
  • afraid of retaliation and further abuse from trafficker or other parties
  • afraid that family, friends, or law enforcement will not believe them
  • do not want to subject themselves to a long and painful legal process
  • don’t have physical or financial access to support
  • may not qualify for socially funded support
  • may be waitlisted for several weeks/months before receiving support
  • experience other barriers when trying to access support such as language, cultural, religious, gender, or sexuality

No matter the nature of the relationship between the exploited individual and the trafficker the individual did not choose the exploitation and abuse in the relationship. Consent cannot be given under threats, coercion and manipulation. Traffickers benefit and profit from exploited individuals while robbing them of their freedom, health and dignity.

Forced Labour

Labour exploitation may be referred to as forced labour, servitude, bonded labour or labour trafficking. In Canada, labour exploitation is found within labour-intensive or under-regulated industries such as, but not limited to, construction, farming, home care, child care, hotels and restaurants.

Forced labour is any work or service done involuntarily or under threat. Labour traffickers, employment recruiters or employers may control, manipulate and coerce employees into forced labour by isolating employees in remote geographic locations, language and cultural barriers, threats of violence, threats of deportation, threats of law enforcement, forced confinement, unfair pay deductions, unpaid hours, reduction in hours, or threats against children or other family members. Labour traffickers may also keep possession of passports, work permits and other government documents, as well as methods of communication such as phone, text or email.

Traffickers lure exploited individuals through promises of a decent wage and safe housing. Exploited individuals may borrow money from private lenders to pay recruiters to work in Canada. Once in Canada, these individuals often work excessive and unpaid hours, in unsafe working and housing conditions. Most or all of their income will go to repay the initial loan and to unfair deductions and fees demanded by the trafficker.

The individual may enter Canada with a valid work permit, employment offer, and pre-arranged housing secured by the trafficker. In other situations, the individual may have entered Canada under false pretenses believing the trafficker secured employment, housing and a valid work permit, only to find when they arrive the trafficker had lied. In both scenarios, the trafficker exploits the individual’s vulnerabilities such as, but not limited to, poverty, food insecurity, inability to access information, acting as sole income earner for their family, critical health conditions of family members, and desperation to escape war or a country overrun by large networks of criminal violence.

Labour trafficking and exploitation, like other forms of trafficking, is difficult to detect and investigate. Those being exploited may not come forward because they are unaware of their rights as workers in Canada. They may believe the consequences of reporting the crime can lead to a further physical, psychological or sexual abuse and/or deportation and increased financial burdens.

Forced Marriage

Forced marriage is a practice in which marriage takes place without the consent of one or both parties and conducted against his or her own will. If consent is given, it is usually under duress and fear. A forced marriage is different than an arranged marriage in which both parties consent to the assistance of their parents or third party (for example, a match maker) in choosing a spouse.

Women and girls are often the victims of this crime. The marriage may occur because family or other parties benefit financially or as atonement for an offence committed by a family member. In other situations, the marriage may be a means to acquire a servant for household responsibilities. The women and girls forced into marriage are often abused physically, sexually, financially and are treated as a slave within their own home. They may have no control over their immigration documents, are isolated from society and/or afraid to shame their families.

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