What is Sexual Trafficking?
Sexual trafficking is a form of human trafficking. It involves recruiting, transporting or holding a victim for the purpose of sexual exploitation. This is induced by force, fraud or coercion by a third party, with the aim of exploiting them for profit.
Minors are unable to consent to engaging in commercial sexual services and are considered victims of human trafficking.
How to Recognize the Signs
Signs that a person may be being trafficked:
being withdrawn (won’t make eye contact, won’t speak for themselves)
being controlled/not allowed to speak for themselves
show signs of abuse, or have tattooing or branding symbols
being dressed to look much older than they are/wearing expensive things
someone is controlling their money, ID or other personal possessions
being frightened of the authorities or the individual they’re with
How does it happen?
Traffickers identify people who are vulnerable due to situational, emotional, and or economic circumstances. Traffickers may find victims through social media, their connections/networks, and by focusing on high-risk people and venues. They will show sudden interest in the vulnerable person in an effort to get closer to them.
Traffickers will identify a victim’s emotional/material and economic needs and fulfill them. This may include gifts, attention, affection, drugs, alcohol or whatever they need to fill their target’s needs. At this time, the trafficker will begin pushing boundaries and encouraging ‘risky’ sexual behaviours (e.g. explicit photos) of their victims. Victims will be introduced to new social venues and people associated with the trafficker.
The trafficker may try to distance the victim from friends and family, and make the victim feel like they are the only person who cares about them. This helps the trafficker assert control.
Control & Exploitation
Once isolated, sex traffickers often use threats of violence (including against the victim’s loved ones), manipulation of dependency, blackmail, and forced substance abuse to coerce their victim into providing sexual services. Initially, victims may be unaware that they are being manipulated and sexually exploited.
Info obtained: Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline/Ontario.ca
What do you do if you suspect someone is being trafficked?
Call the 24/7 confidential Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline @ 1-833-900-1010.
This hotline provides a confidential space to access support, services and offers other reporting options.
You can also report a potential victim or crime by calling your local police or remain anonymous by calling Canadian Crime Stoppers @ 1-800-222-TIPS (8477)
or submit a secure web tip at www.cstip.ca.