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Education, the key to the fight against human trafficking: experts

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Education, the key to the fight against human trafficking: experts

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VANCOUVER – More education on human trafficking is needed across Canada to tackle the growing problem, which has been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say.

Julie Jones, former police detective, human trafficking investigator and founder of Human Intelligence Services Inc., said people often don’t know how to identify human trafficking, even when they do. – even the experience.

“The most important aspect of milking today is the grooming and the way it’s done,” she said. “It’s all about manipulation and coercive control because, as is also common in cases of domestic violence, people often don’t realize they are in an abusive situation until they become addicted to it. their attacker, be removed from their support network and can “not come out.”

In response to the need for awareness, the Joy Smith Foundation officially launched Canada’s first online education center this week.

The platform offers online courses on preventing and responding to human trafficking, and offers courses for children, parents, teachers, social workers, first responders and judges to help them. to understand the crime, to identify it and to intervene.

Smith, who was a member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly and a Member of Parliament, founded the organization in 2011. She said the pandemic has pushed young people online, making it easier for predators to find and prepare victims, but this change also created a space for connection and conversation, which was the inspiration behind the foundation’s platform.

“There aren’t enough police, social workers or citizens who know how abusers work, and some of them don’t even know that human trafficking still exists in Canada,” she said. declared. “We can barely keep pace, which is why we are thrilled to (create) online education programs accessible to all Canadians. “

Statistics Canada and the Canadian Center to End Human Trafficking both released reports this year showing an increasing trend in human trafficking in Canada.

The latest data from Statistics Canada shows that police reported 511 human trafficking incidents in 2019, a 44% increase from the previous year and the highest rate since comparable data became available in 2009.

Ontario cases accounted for 62% of Canadian cases in 2019. Nova Scotia reported the highest rate per capita, nearly double the national rate.

The Canadian Center to End Human Trafficking launched a helpline in May 2019 to connect callers to local supports and services. In his first year, he said he identified 415 human trafficking cases.

While the latest available data is only for the first three months of the pandemic, Julia Drydyk, the centre’s executive director, said blockades and border closures had no impact on shrinking the sex market. commercial and had “absolutely no impact on reducing traffic” in Canada.

Recent data from the center shows that COVID-19 has also had a major impact on the social services that victims rely on to escape trafficking, citing that around one in five service providers who responded to their survey indicated that ‘he was unable to offer all or part of their services at the start of the pandemic.

“From a response perspective – and this has only really come to light because of the pandemic – the real challenge is how the support sector is funded,” said Drydyk.

She said program operators are often unsure whether they will receive ongoing funding and are so busy preparing a business case for financial support that they cannot focus on helping survivors. .

“It also means that we have a patchwork of services across the country that has a lot of holes.”

Drydyk said the new educational platform will play a key role in preventing future victims of trafficking and provide the framework and accessibility to reach those who are attracted.

“The level of education awareness in Canada is incredibly low and far from where we need to go,” she said. “The more people understand, the more it can trigger a reality that they or someone they know may have been trafficked.”

Jones, the former police officer and digital and mobile forensics specialist, said one of the biggest problems law enforcement faces is technology, which is playing a bigger role in the business of deals, something that the general public does not fully understand. For example, she said the rise and popularity of social media sites like OnlyFans can create opportunities for exploitation.

“There are often types of exploitative behavior that start when women or girls feel in control, but then creep into vulnerability to human trafficking,” she said. “I’ve worked with a lot of people who don’t realize they’ve been trafficked or exploited until long after.”

She said that a person does not need to be physically displaced to meet the definition of trafficking, although this still occurs in Canada.

“People can be trafficked and still go about their daily business. Recognizing exploitation and the different forms and modalities is the key to educating people about human trafficking, ”she said.

The National Center for Human Trafficking Education officially kicked off Thursday with a virtual event, which included endorsements from survivors, police and community leaders from across the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 30, 2021.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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