Friday is Human Trafficking Awareness Day in Brant County.
BRANT COUNTY - The County of Brant has proclaimed Friday February 22nd as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.
Mayor David Bailey explains why they made this declaration.
“We have a moral obligation to raise public awareness of human trafficking and together, do anything we can to help end this crime. Human Trafficking can occur in any community including the County of Brant. As a community, it is important to stay vigilant and recognize the signs of this crime that takes away people’s most basic human rights, dignity and freedom.”
Human trafficking is also been described as modern day slavery. Ontario has a couple of different forms of human trafficking with sex trafficking being the most common and labour trafficking.
According to statistics Canada, 66 percent of human trafficking in our country takes place in Ontario. 95% of the victims are female with 72% being under the age of 25.
Organized criminal networks, as well as individuals, perpetrate this crime. The accused are often young males under 34 years old.
According to “Ontario’s Strategy to End Human Trafficking”, the following people are most at risk of sex trafficking:
- Women and girls, but boys, men and people who are LGBTQI2S are also targeted.
- The age of recruitment is as low as 12 or 13 years old.
- Homeless and marginalized youth are targeted by sex traffickers.
- Youth who struggle with low self-esteem, bullying, discrimination, poverty, abuse, isolation and other social or family issues may be targeted.
- Indigenous women and girls are especially likely to be trafficked.
- Addiction, mental health issues and developmental disabilities are also risk factors.
Sex traffickers often recruit and groom people for trafficking by becoming a trusted friend or boyfriend.
Possible signs that someone is being groomed for sex trafficking include changes such as:
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Being secretive about their activities
- Having a new boyfriend, girlfriend or friend who they won't introduce to friends and family
- Suddenly spending time with an older person or people
- Absences from school or a decline in school performance
- Wearing more sexualized clothing
- Having new clothing, jewelry etc. that they can't afford to buy
- Suddenly having a new or second cell phone with a secret number
Traffickers control their victims in various ways such as taking away their identity documents and passports, sexual abuse, threats, intimidation, physical violence, and isolation. Victims suffer physical or emotional abuse and often live and work in terrible conditions.
For information and support, call Ontario's confidential Human Trafficking Helpline: 1-833-999-9211, TTY 1-888-340-1001. If there is immediate danger or if you suspect a child under 18 is being trafficked, call the Ontario Provincial Police at 911 or 1.888.310.1122.