Human trafficking is the kidnapping and confining of a person to exploit them sexually, for labour, or the trafficking of organs and tissues – it is a horrific form of modern slavery. Sadly, human trafficking is steadily on the rise. It might surprise you to know that in 2019, the number of human trafficking incidents reported to police increased by 44% from the previous year.
Of those individuals, 11% of victims in Canada were trafficked by a stranger, 25% by a current or former romantic partner, and 29% was a friend or someone they knew.
The pandemic has also worsened human trafficking. In March of 2020, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams’ (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation unit reported that there were twice as many cases of online sexual exploitation as there had been the year prior. This is likely due to how much more time has been spent online since COVID-19.
Human Trafficking in Alberta
In 2019, 31 out of 511 human trafficking incidents in Canada were reported to have occurred in Alberta. Statistics about human trafficking in Canada are not easy to find or access, but that is slowly changing. Alberta, for example, formed a task force against human trafficking in May 2020. This task force is led by Paul Brandt, a Canadian country star and outspoken advocate for human trafficking victims.
Shortly before announcing the task force, Alberta had passed the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act. This Act helps victims by expanding the definition of sexual exploitation. Survivors can now more easily access protection orders and sue their traffickers.
A person is more likely to be trafficked if they have an unstable home life, are facing poverty, or are dealing with substance abuse (or are living with someone dealing with substance abuse).
Recognizing red flags and odd behaviours can help you assist others who may be in danger. Some issues that are concerning involve employers not wanting to provide work contracts, employers expecting employees to pay a fee for the “opportunity” to work for them, a minor being in a relationship with someone far older (especially when the older partner is controlling), an individual living at work or always being driven to and from work by someone else, and so on.
Some individuals may lack identification, move around a lot “for work,” show visible signs of abuse (bruises, etc.), or look as if they may be malnourished.
The internet is also a significant “hunting ground” for predators. Some common places predators find victims are online chat rooms, gaming chats, and social media platforms where children create accounts that their parents do not monitor.
How Can You Help?
The first big step is to get educated! There are many great resources, including The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, the Government of Canada Website, the Human Trafficking action plan on the Government of Alberta website, and the ACT Alberta website.
If you believe you may be seeing signs of human trafficking, it is generally safest to report such incidents without confronting the trafficker or the victim directly. You do not know the details surrounding the situation and could be putting yourself and the victim in great danger.
9-1-1 should be called in the case of immediate danger. Otherwise, you should write down as many details about what you’ve witnessed as you can (a summary of what happened, a visual description of those involved as well as their vehicles and license plates, the location as well as date and time, and any names or nicknames you may have heard). Then, anonymously call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010, or email the hotline at email@example.com.
We’re Here to Help!
At McGuiness Law, we are passionate about helping victims of crime. We fight to make your voice heard. We know important deadlines and understand legal jargon, and we are good at what we do!
You can reach out to us without feeling pressured or obligated to continue with our services. We offer free consultations to help you understand how we can support you. You can reach us via the form on our website or by calling our toll-free number at 1-833-585-4145.