Submitted by Steven Lorenzo Baileys, Community Development Coordinator
Human trafficking is a global problem and Greater Victoria is not immune to it.
On December 6 and 7, 2016, a two-day workshop addressing human trafficking was presented in partnership with the BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP), and the Community Partnership Network (CPN). Representatives from First Nations, municipal governments, health providers, women’s groups, youth, police, immigrant settlement agencies, and others were in attendance.
Participants learned that human trafficking and exploitation includes illicit activities such as:
- Sexual exploitation;
- Forced labour or services;
- Slavery or practices similar to slavery or servitude; and
- The removal of organs
The west coast of Canada is both a major transit and a destination point for human trafficking. Canada is also a source of trafficked persons and has experienced cases of domestic trafficking within its borders. Due to the hidden nature of this crime, most human trafficking activities are often undetected or unreported. Often the most vulnerable populations in our community become victims of human trafficking. These vulnerable groups include: Aboriginal women, temporary foreign workers, youth and newcomer immigrants and refugees.
Participants learned that human trafficking and exploitation do exist in Greater Victoria. The Victoria Filipino Caregivers Association, for example, spoke about an alarming number of local cases where female Filipino caregivers have been denied payment of wages; had their passports taken away; had to limit their travel, subjected to emotional and physical abuse; or have been forced to work 16 hour days, and so on. Often these victims are frightened and unwilling to formally complain because they fear reprisals. Many do not trust the police. In other cases, victims do not have the language skills or face cultural barriers – all of which can discourage victims from sharing this information with the authorities.
To conclude the workshop, participants engaged in a series of Global Café table discussions and committed to taking several actions designed to increase awareness and education about human trafficking within their organizations. One participant stated: “It is disheartening to know that human trafficking is taking place in our own community. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to it – here and elsewhere. It is heartening to see the work being done to address human trafficking from many different agencies. We need to do more collaboration and learn what each one of us is doing so that our efforts are not duplicated and we can support each other. Strength in numbers!”
To learn more about human trafficking and what you can do to combat it, visit the website of the BC Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons
To view photos from the workshop, visit the ICA Flickr page – Photo credits to Isidoro Emmanuel
This workshop was made possible thanks to funding provided by the BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.