World Day Against Trafficking in Persons
by Patricia Coelho, Project Coordinator at the Barbara Schlifer Clinic
In 2003, the United Nations designated July 30th as the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. The aim is to bring about worldwide awareness and a coordinated response by governments and civil society to tackle and defeat human trafficking.
Human trafficking, also called “modern-slavery,” is one of the most devastating violations of human rights. Victims are coerced into forced labor, including sexual exploitation, and are subject to abuse, isolation, threats, and intimidation.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released, in 2018, a Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, which presents an overview of trafficking cases from 2014 to 2016 involving 142 Countries. The report noted an increase in the number of reported human trafficking victims from 196 in 2003 to 254 in 2016, while a rise in the number of countries involved in the last report was also noted, from 30 in 2003 to 97 in 2016. The majority of victims are women and girls with a considerably higher number of cases of sexual exploitation among them; for women, 83% of cases and for girls, 72%.
In Canada, the proportion of women survivors is also high. According to Stats Canada, and based on police-reported data, between 2009 and 2016 there was a total of 865 victims of human trafficking in Canada, and women comprised 95% of all cases.
It is important to note that the numbers above represent reported cases only—experts in the field estimate millions of people are trafficked every year worldwide. The International Labour Organization estimates that in 2016, there were 40.3 million cases of human trafficking in the world. 24.9 million involved forced labor, including sexual exploitation; and 15.4 million involved forced marriage. Women and girls represented 75% of all cases.
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has launched the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline to assist survivors with a range of support services across Canada. The hotline is a confidential, multilingual service, and operates 24/7. The hotline provides assistance to, and on behalf of, minors, adults, males, females, transgender individuals, gender non-conforming individuals, citizens, permanent residents, and foreign nationals. The hotline offers a range of services such as crisis response to people being trafficked; general information; tip receipt and reporting; referrals to social service providers and law enforcement (as requested); tools and resources to strengthen the community response to trafficking.
In addition, the Barbra Schlifer Clinic provides a range of legal and non-legal services to victims of violence, including survivors of human trafficking.