Ed's daughter, Cheri, was a typical pre-teen in a supportive Christian home. But everything changed in the ninth grade. She got a boyfriend and ran away with him. The boyfriend, it turned out, was a newly-minted trafficker and he reported to a higher-up pimp in Montreal. The pimp's sister, also a working girl, taught Cheri the ropes. "He took her to Edmonton, and turned her out on the streets." The pimp moved her to Victoria along with a couple of other girls, and Cheri's phone calls stopped. A few weeks later, the police arrived at their door.
The breakthrough cases where traffickers have been sent to jail, send ripples and will continue to send ripples through the red light district in Kolkata and through the justice system in India. These ripples are starting to change attitudes and beliefs regarding the acceptability of human trafficking in India. The more traffickers we can hold to account, the more they will realize that they cannot continue trafficking within India.
When I met with the girls, it was as if I was meeting with young girls anywhere in the world. We all sat down on the floor in a circle and they would ask me questions and I in turn would ask them questions. Their questions were like questions my own daughter has asked me... about clothes, food, Bollywood movies and popular songs. I nearly forgot what these girls had been through, what they had experienced.
International Justice Mission Canada, in partnership with the U.S.-based International Justice Mission (IJM), is a human rights organization that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression. More specifically, IJM focuses on forced labour, slavery, illegal property seizure, sexual violence, sex trafficking, illegal detention, and citizenship documentation. IJM does great work. Their team of lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure that victims are rescued immediately, that perpetrators are persecuted, that victims have access to support and resources following a rescue, and that the public justice systems (police, courts, and laws) effectively protect the poor.
Isn't it our responsibility to try to help, to protect youth, to afford them some level of hope so that they may have opportunity for health and happiness in their lives? After all, a child is a child no matter where you go and they are all precious. No child should ever be for sale.
Hundreds of thousands of children have been sold or kidnapped and work as virtual slaves in India. Canada must insist that, as part of any free trade deal reached with India, no goods made by trafficked children will be allowed to enter Canada. It is the right thing to do.
Beyond Borders is an organization which speaks out against child sexual exploitation and it was their 10th anniversary Media Awards. I am aware of the Sheldon Kennedy story in the same detail as most of you, that is, I saw the newscasts that revealed his circumstances -- sexual abuse at the hands of his minor-league coach. I did not know that I would be so moved to hear the details freshly told.
While trafficking may feel far away, understanding our connections helps to bring the issue home. As we start our Christmas shopping, let's not forget who is on the production end of our gift purchases. Is it possible that box of chocolates was produced by children swinging machetes in cocoa plantations?
The man celebrated for being the first person to reach one million followers on the uber-popular micro-blogging service may have also been the first person to simultaneously piss off his over 8.2 million followers and cause him to take a break from the service.