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May 9, 2006

Canada not immune to human trafficking; faces domestic reality

Canadian prostitutes bought, sold and forcibly moved, study shows
May 1, 2006
The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- She stands on a street corner in skimpy clothing, shaking from a chill, or more likely from her drug addiction. She was brought here from another part of the province, or possibly from another province.

Her situation, and that of others like her, has drawn no attention. Despite growing awareness of international trafficking of women and children, the trafficking of Canadian-born prostitutes remains invisible.

However, a new study released yesterday says Canadians should not be so smug. Canada is not exempt from the buying and selling of people, the investigators found.

Sex workers say they are moved quietly, put in cars and taken on "road trips." Pimps and traffickers buy bus and plane tickets for them and escort them to their new locations. At times, they are drugged, bound and abducted by rival pimp families or crime organizations, and wake up in new locations across the country.

Canada needs to provide better protection and support for sex workers and deal with "the root causes of trafficking," the investigators say.

"This is a huge issue on the street," said Raven Bowen, spokeswoman for the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Women, a new advocacy group for sex-trade workers.

"In Canada, everyone thinks international trafficking of women means women from Asia or Eastern Europe. They do not realize it is Canadian women from Toronto, who are taken to Calgary for the Stampede, or others who are moved around the country," Ms. Bowen said. "These women are treated the same as immigrant women in the human-trafficking trade. There is lots of movement of sex workers across Canada."
Read the rest here.

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