The United Nations General Assembly since 2013 has held an annual high-level meeting to review the Global Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, urging governments to take concerted and concrete action to counter this scourge. ‘World Anti-Trafficking Day is July 30. The resolution states that such a day is essential to “raise awareness of the situation of victims of human trafficking and to promote and protect their rights”.
This year, UCTE wants to take the time to explain the seriousness of events related to a human trafficking network in Manitoba and why it is important to talk about it today.
For some time, human trafficking in Manitoba has been taking an unexpected turn. Focused on sexual exploitation, human trafficking has grown dramatically in the province. The government estimates that some 400 children and youth are trafficked into the visible sex trade each year. However, Manitoba Family Minister, Rochelle Squires, says the real number, when the so-called invisible trade, including online, is taken into account, could be closer to 4,000.
On May 12, the Manitoba government introduced legislation and amendments to existing laws that it says will strengthen laws on human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The bill was introduced in response to the discovery of a large human trafficking scheme that targeted children and vulnerable youth. The bill would require hotels and those operating online accommodation platforms, such as Airbnb, to keep records of guest information, including names and addresses. According to Squires, proposed amendments to the Child Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Act would force hotels and temporary accommodation, as well as taxi drivers and ride-hailing services such as Uber, to “immediately report suspected human trafficking to the police”.
As a result of Manitoba’s bill coming into force on June 24, a 33-year-old Winnipeg man arrested last year after a two-year police investigation into human trafficking has now been sentenced to three years in prison — one of the first long sentences for such a charge in Manitoba, according to Winnipeg police. Authorities had been working since 2019 to arrest the person recruiting young women to provide sex for money. Victims of human trafficking often suffer physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse, and may not know how or where to turn for help. They are vulnerable and may experience trauma that will affect them the rest of their lives. It is important to ensure their safety and to do more prevention to counter the number of victims in this environment.
The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline is a multilingual, confidential, 24-hour service which connects victims and survivors of human trafficking. If you or someone you know is a victim, call the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-833-900-1010.