Human Trafficking – Modern Day Slavery in Canada
From the ARPA Canada e-Luminary, April 16, 2009
“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17
Although Canada may be a first-world country according to the standard of the world, that doesn’t mean that all is well. Beneath our veil of “niceness” is an abundance of perversity, hedonism, injustice, and idolatry. This issue of the e-Luminary will look at one example of injustice in Canada – human trafficking – and what we can do about it. The point is not to preach doom and gloom. Rather, it is to awaken us to the reality of the world we live in the hope that we will uncover the light God has given us and shine it into the darkness that pervades our communities and country.
Slavery may well be illegal in Canada but that does not mean that people aren’t being bought and sold. Human trafficking is defined as a “multibillion dollar criminal industry that involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, or delivery of people for the purpose of slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labour.” The sad reality is that our country is known world-wide for our lenient response to human trafficking. There is no minimum sentence for human trafficking in Canada.
Here are some staggering statistics to consider:
– Humans are the second most trafficked “product” in the black market [internationally], surpassed only by drugs.
– According to the RCMP, 800 to 1200 people are trafficked in and through Canada every year.
– 2200 men, women, and children, are trafficked into America from Canada every year. Canada is considered a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of prostitution and forced labour.
– In Canada a girl can be sold for $15,000 and earn her owner over $40,000 a year.
In 2004, our Parliament passed a law that officially recognized human trafficking as a crime. But it wasn’t until 2008 that the law was finally used. A man from the Niagara area was found guilty and received a three year sentence (minus 404 days for time already served) because he earned over $350,000 by sexually exploiting a 15 year-old girl daily for two years. If this horrendous crime only receives a three year sentence, the prospect of justice for other cases is looking dismal.
In an effort to clamp down on human trafficking, Member of Parliament Joy Smith has introduced a private members bill (C-268) that would change our Criminal Code so that human trafficking charges involving victims under the age of eighteen will receive a minimum sentence of five years imprisonment. It is scheduled to be voted on for the first time on April 22nd. Although this bill could be stronger, it needs our support. Please consider contacting your MP this week and ask them to be present and vote in support of Bill C-268.
We realize that the problem of human trafficking will not be stopped by laws. It is a symptom of the greed, lust, coveting, and other sin that fills our hearts. Although we need to aim at the root of the problem by preaching the Gospel and the need for repentance, we also have to minimize the effects of sin in our broken world. Supporting Bill C-268 is one small thing we can do to be a voice for justice in this respect.
More Resources on Human Trafficking
For further information on this topic, visit the website that was made to promote Bill C-268. Also, visit the website from International Justice Mission, a Christian human rights organization that fights against oppression around the world by bringing the offenders to justice. Click here to go to a page that includes fact sheets and videos on slavery and sexual trafficking, among other things. Click here to go to the Canadian IJM website.