Report on sex trafficking in Canada reveals a surprising demographic

Elianna Lev
·3 min read
A woman is seen walking at night. (Getty)
A woman is seen walking at night. (Getty)

A new report that looks at the human trafficking transportation corridors throughout the country also reveals surprising statistics on the demographic of victims.

The study, published by The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking (CCEHT) finds that human trafficking corridors exist in nearly province. There are notable exceptions in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, where human trafficking and demand for it exist, though limited transportation infrastructure impacts the quick movement of traffickers.

The trafficking corridors are both inter- and intra-provincial, and span some of the major routes taken by millions of Canadians every day. Some of these include Ontario’s Highway 401, which connects from Montreal to Windsor, and passes several densely populated regions, like the Greater Toronto Area, as well as corridors between Calgary, Edmonton and Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, which the report found to be used both by Albertan traffickers and those outside the province, namely from Ontario and Quebec. It found a growing trend on this particular corridor was that most of the victims were from Quebec and spoke little to no English. This is seen as another method to control the victims.

Canada’s West Coast circuit, between Quebec and Alberta, was the route most commonly identified by those interviewed for the report. Victims often are flown from Montreal to Calgary, where they work near the airport or downtown, or are then moved along the intra-provincial corridor between Calgary and Fort McMurray. In the east, the corridor between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick is well-known. Strip clubs can legally operate in New Brunswick but not in Nova Scotia.

Victims are often Canadians

While intercontinental human trafficking is prevalent, what many people might not realize is that a vast percentage of victims in Canada are Canadian girls and women, rather than those coming from other countries. The report found that 84 per cent of those who took part in the study were Canadian, between the ages of under 18 and 19-24. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface.

“That only represents five to ten percent of the overarching crisis in our country,” Benita Hansraj, spokeswoman with the CCEHT, tells Yahoo Canada.

Hansraj explains that trafficking begins with potential victims being lured into a relationship with a boyfriend, where a trust is built and established. That relationship eventually progresses through stages of manipulations into sex trafficking.

“Most of these women are your average Canadian girl who truly believe that they are in a relationship with a boyfriend who ultimately manipulates them until they are their Romeo Pimp,” she says.

Some key characteristics identified amongst sex trafficking survivors include prior or current involvement with the child welfare system, experiences of living in poverty, homelessness or precarious housing, a history of substance abuse or addiction issues, as well as a history of trauma, abuse and/or domestic or sexual violence.

“Human trafficking literally takes place in nearly every single community across this country,” she says. “No neighbourhood is safe.”