When Canadians think of human trafficking the majority picture individuals being smuggled across international borders into the sex trade. After spending time with girls rescued from the sex trade at Partners International’s Mahima Care Homes these thoughts are prominent in my mind as well. But trafficking does not require travel or transport to another country and the sex trade is only one of many industries where trafficked individuals end up.
At Partners International Canada (PI) we have been discussing human trafficking for many years as a prominent human rights and international development issue. We have been involved in trafficking prevention in numerous countries including Nepal, Nigeria and Moldova and carry out rehabilitation and reintegration programs for victims of trafficking. Last week in a meeting PI President Brent Mitchell described human trafficking in a way that I felt really captured its meaning. “Human trafficking”, he explained, “is the movement of people into slavery.”
The movement of people into slavery.
In the historical fiction novel The Book of Negroes set in the early 1700’s, Lawrence Hill tells the story of Aminata, an 11-year-old West African girl forced from her village, across the Atlantic Ocean, to a plantation in South Carolina. The story outlines her humiliating, dehumanizing and brutal journey into slavery. For over 300 years this is what the movement of people into slavery looked like.
Today the UN states that nearly 4 million individuals are trafficked or moved into slavery every year – 1.2 million are children. Though it seems impossible to believe – there are more people in slavery and being moved into slavery now than at any other time in history. The numbers run as high as 27 million.
Through a four part blog series we will look at how people are moved into slavery today, how people can be moved out of slavery, how human trafficking can be prevented and how Canadians can educate themselves and become part of the solution.
Check out the other posts in this series: