It’s been a while for both Joel and I. Work, youth and the upcoming wedding have taken our priority lately. I look forward to our married days when we can take weekends away and just write.
Over the past 6 months, I had been doing a lot of research on sex trafficking in Canada. I hope you can benefit from this!
Rape for Pay: A look into Canada’s forced sex industry
By Jade Paxton
I could feel my palms start to sweat as my heart pounded in my chest. There is so much injustice. God, will it ever stop? He was pronounced innocent. I looked down as the scared eyes of the girl beside me peered into mine. “No!” I screamed. How could this man be claimed innocent when he had taken the innocence of this little girl? Anger was streaming in my veins. Every part of me was shaking. I ran up in protest. Then I woke up with a start. It was all a dream.
Look across the globe and you’ll see that everywhere, someone is fighting for a cause. For rights and for freedom, every person has a view and a reason to stand for what they believe in. Residents of Canada have been blessed with extreme freedom for years. Differences, such as expression of sexual orientation and freedom of religion, are all accepted. Here we have the freedom that people have fought for and in other places, are dying for.
Imagine, you come to seek this type of freedom. There’s a longing to express yourself without your culture shunning you. You’re talking to a friend and she tells you she’s getting a job as a model in Toronto and you should come too. It all seems like a dream come true. Offer accepted, you leave your family and everything you know. You arrive at Pearson Airport where a couple of guys approach you saying that they’re the ones who will take you to your job. You follow them, they ask for your passports and you hand them over. You get to your destination. The cities huge, you have no idea where you are or how to properly speak the language. You also noticed that your friend was taken to a different room. You’re handed an outfit and told to get ready. It’s rather skimpy, but you shrug your shoulders and put it on. The man takes you to a place full of men and you’re told to work the pole. A few glances, a few touches, you’re starting to not feel so great. But you go on. After the night, you talk to the man about your new job and he tells you you’ll have to do what you’re told to pay off your debit to him. The next night, you’re brought to a room and told to please the man waiting for you. You realize what’s happening and you refuse. He beats you. Then it’s the same the next day and the next, until you realize that all you can do is work. You give up your body. There’s no other way that you see out. You’re trapped. If you rebel, you get beaten. If you go to the police, you believe you’ll go to jail because you don’t have any identification. Bound in manipulation, all you can see is that there is no way out.
It’s hard to imagine that scenario happening in Canada. Modern day slavery comes in many forms, with sexual exploitation being the most common. When thinking of sex trafficking, it’s easier to picture it in the brothels of India or the streets of Thailand. Fact is, Canada is a huge target for sexual exploitation. The exact number is unknown, but more than 600 girls a year are trafficked into Canada for sex work. The majority of them are coming into it blindly. Being forced to service between 500- 700 men before their “debt” is paid off, one girl will bring in $2,000 to $5,000 dollars daily and suffer through the pain of physical and emotional abuse just to live on. It’s unfathomable to think that somewhere in Canada our craziest nightmare is a girl’s reality.
From one free country to another, over 2,000 people are trafficked into the United States annually for the purpose of forced labor and sexual exploitation. It’s not just foreigners. RCMP reports have told that recent convictions of human trafficking have been Canadian victims.
Any person can be trafficked.
Unfortunately, this is not an issue that will be solved over night. We are talking about an extreme multi-billion dollar industry here. These establishments are extremely difficult for our law enforcement to discover without deep investigation. Escort agencies, residential brothels, exotic dance clubs and places like massage parlors have been found as fronts of sexual exploitation. But it is not impossible. Justice is not just a dream. It can be made a reality.
Digging deeper under the surface, it is beautiful to see the transition Canada has been making. The road has not been easy and it takes some very strong people to carry this burden.
I have the privilege of knowing Michelle Brock, a passionate abolitionist. Raised in Kenya, Finland and Ethiopia by a couple of humanitarian development workers, Michelle’s life has never been short of adventure. Being a naturally beautiful person with an upbeat personality, Michelle has a huge heart and an inspiring dream that is contagious.
“In October of 2006, my husband Jay and I attended a leadership conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission led one of the sessions, tackling the topic of modern day slavery. At the end of the session, 100 tickets to pre-screen a movie called TRADE were given out. Out of 10,000 people that were in attendance, our group ended up with 6 tickets. Little did we know our lives were about to change.”
Call it a coincidence or fate. From the film, a devastated awareness was sparked and from that, a hope arose. All of these factors channeled into the founding of Hope for the Sold.
Believing that awareness is a key factor to getting Canada on the right track, Hope for the Sold works to raise attention about sex trafficking in every way possible. Their main channel of awareness is their blog.
“We want to fight sexual exploitation one word at a time. Writing and film can be so powerful and that is where our contribution lies.”
Along with hosting events to get people involved, the Brock couple embarked across Canada in 2009, making a 45 minute documentary. Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada goes into detail telling of this current topic in our homeland. It’s eye opening qualities give knowledge that anyone can benefit from. The couple is currently on their way to create another documentary on the legalization of prostitution. Do yourself a favor and hit up their blog at www.hopeforthesold.com.
“In Africa I had witnessed poverty and injustice in various forms, but a multi-billion dollar industry of rape for pay struck a chord with me unlike anything else ever had. As a woman, I could not imagine a worse fate.”
It’s hard to let the reality of this sink in. In fact, we’ll fight it from sinking in because the image it leaves us with is disturbing. But if we open up and let ourselves get upset, uncomfortable and riled up about what is happening in our nation, think of what we can do.
Earlier on in this year, Canada legalized prostitution. Many have cheered this on, seeing it as another form of freedom being released. But the gravity of it has hit others, leaving an ache. Our progress as a country was coming along, especially over the past few years. Human trafficking was officially recognized as a crime and it became law that traffickers of minors receive at least 5 years in prison. Before this bill came into place, there was no minimum sentence for trafficking of children.
“Full decriminalization or legalization of prostitution would only lead to increased trafficking due to increased demand for paid sex. If Canada chooses to legalize prostitution, ten years from now we will be in the same boat as Amsterdam, whose mayor has called the decision an abysmal failure.”
Although legalization was chosen, we can only hope that this can be turned around and that Canada will not end up in the same sex trafficking fate.
“In an ideal world, men would not seek out women for paid sex, and our economic systems would stop undermining the ability of people to rise out of the poverty that makes them vulnerable. If there is no demand, there will be no reason to provide supply. I want to be part of making trafficking unprofitable.”
What can we do to make this ideal world that Michelle has painted a reality? How can we get Canada to a place where sex trafficking doesn’t exist?
Be a voice! Look in for yourself on this topic and let as many people as you can know about what is going on. Write articles, blog about it, bring it up in conversations. Making others aware is a key factor.
Check out some films, such as Trade or The Whistle Blower. Grab a copy of the book Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin. You’ll benefit from the knowledge it brings you, even if it tears your insides.
STOP supporting the industry! Trafficked girls are used in pornography, strip clubs and massage parlours. If the demand is gone, there will be no need for supply!
Write a letter to your Member of Parliament about your concern for Canada and sex trafficking. Check up on them and see what they are doing for this issue! Stand up with people like Michelle and be a voice!
“I MUST be a voice for those who have been silenced, and cannot be afraid to stand up for what is right. The tricky part is to do this all in love, because people are people and I want to treat everyone with dignity and worth even if they are tragically misguided.”