86% of human trafficking victims in Canada are girls between the ages of 12 – 24 and they are trafficked for the purpose of the sex trade industry – stripping, videos, and prostitution and so on. Yes, I said 12. There are girls who are younger and are bought and sold but the average age is 12 – 24. Surprised? Do you have a teenage daughter?
Like most people, I grew up with debates around strip clubs and prostitution and pornography and for the most part, it was never portrayed as being anything necessarily “bad” unless you were looking at it from a moral perspective. You were kind of left with the impression that girls that chose to work in strip clubs or pornography or even as prostitutes are doing so because of the money they make, the impression being that you can pay your way through college or university doing that, buy a house, buy a new car, the possibilities are endless. Because, you know, the assumption is that all the girls working in there are doing so out of their own free will.
The problem is that the vast majority of them are not doing this out of their own free will and they certainly aren’t making any money. They are being forced to do these things whether they like it or not. I’m sorry but I don’t know a single 11 year old male or female that “likes” to have sex with numerous adult male strangers’ multiple times a night while another adult stands guard outside the room and maybe someone else is videotaping some of it to be sold over the internet.
We can pretend this doesn’t *really* happen. Or we can pretend it’s a few random or extreme cases. We can pretend that maybe it happens, but not around here (you know that old ‘out of sight – out of mind’ mentality). We can also pretend that all politicians are honest and that unicorns frolic in the fields when no one is watching. Pretending doesn’t make it go away and it certainly doesn’t make it true, it just makes it easier for you to do nothing about it.
So why don’t they just leave if they don’t like it? Everyone has choices.
But not everyone has the same choices.
If we put aside the realities of being guarded 24 / 7 by people that threaten you; being beaten by your pimp (or equivalent) on a recommended every other day schedule; only being allowed to sleep for four hours a night; only being given one meal a day; having your family or friends or pets lives threatened if you don’t comply (and in some cases, having those in charge show up with a dead pet to show you what happens when you don’t listen). Some people, many people, have nowhere to go.
I know of one young lady, now an adult and heading for University after graduating from High School this year with honors. When she was 16, she had no safe place to live due to the adults in her life. Technically, she had no safe place to live almost her entire life but that’s beside the point. There is nothing she could have done to change that. She couldn’t have been smarter or better behaved, that’s like saying if the abused woman would just change, he would stop beating her. She lived at random friend’s places because she wanted to finish high school but she wasn’t old enough to get Ontario works on her own. She met a “boyfriend” online who started grooming her for a life in the sex trade industry (not that she knew that at the time) and he convinced her to hop a train and come stay with him in Toronto. She had nowhere else to go and he said he loved her and no one else loved her so why not?
The kids who get recruited are often the runaways, and throwaways and former CAS kids who have no anchor and no connection. They’re the kids whose parents have emotionally distanced themselves from them but maybe still provide a roof over their heads and food in the fridge but nothing more. They’re the kids who have been sexually abused and no one was able to help them. They’re the lost souls that no one seems to want. Tell me, where are they supposed to go?
For more information, please visit http://www.walk-with-me.org/ . I strongly encourage you to hire Timea or one of the girls that she works with to come out to your organization or community to talk about this subject. It will change your life.