Americas, Canada, Human Rights

Sex Trafficking and the First Nations in Canada

Slavery is alive and well. Hopefully, if you spend any amount of time looking at current events and human rights violations, you will know that sex trafficking is the most lucrative and common means of modern slavery, and it happens all the time.

First Nations: A History of Sex Slavery

This awful practice has not been stamped out years ago, nor was it abolished with the Emancipation Proclamation. People still sell other people as sex slaves, get away with it, and go back and enslave even more people.

In Canada, the most common victims of sex slavery and sex trafficking are indigenous women and girls. The natives of Canada are often taken as slaves aboard ships and forced into prostitution, erotic dancing, or other means of sex slavery. These women are called “boat whores” by their captors and are illegal entertainment for sailors onboard the ships and other places. Oftentimes, people are unaware that the girls they are watching are sex slaves; and the indigenous women are often far too frightened to say anything, for fear of being beaten or even killed by the slavers.

How Does Sex Slavery and Sex Trafficking This Happen?

When people talk about sex slavery or sex trafficking, they often think of crowds of people, huddled together and being shipped to faraway lands. But in Canada, in the First Nations, sex slavery is often far more personal than that.

A common situation is when a young girl has been working with a gang for some years because that is the only way to make enough money to support their family. These girls will often sell drugs, make dropoffs, or do other grunt work for the gangs.

However, at some point, there will not be enough money. Supporting a family is expensive, and the girls will fall into debt. In fact, they will be in debt to the gang, which means that the gang owns them. The “only way out” for these girls according to the gang is to sell themselves, and make the money back that they owe them. Human or sex trafficking looks much like forced prostitution.

You could be a slave, yet live in your own home with your own family. However, the gang owns you, tells you what to do and where to go, and what to do with your body. You don’t own it, according to them.

It’s their body, they say, and they do with it as they please.

The National Response

This horrific situation for many people has resulted in a surprisingly small response from the Canadian government. International human rights organizations have been very stern with the Canadian government for failing to address the awful situation. Here’s what the government has done so far:

A $25 million budget was set by the government of Canada to get rid of the sex trafficking problem. However, this was a dismal failure as the committees in charge were unable to come up with a spending plan for the money. They had a huge stack of cash, and they were unable to come up with something to do with that stack of cash to help people.

In addition, once a basic budget was passed, over $24.5 million was spent on increasing law enforcement, and less than $500K was spent on helping victims in Canada, and giving them shelter and rehabilitation. This stunning misallocation has not resulted in any meaningful changes to the situation for anyone concerned.

What To Do?

There have been more disturbing stories than anyone could stand to listen to. For example, one pimp paid a native woman’s rent, lodging, and food. She didn’t have enough to pay for basic essentials. Because of that, he said that he owned her. On weekends had her come up to his house with his friends and do demeaning and racist sexual roleplays. Stories like this illustrate the abject horror and loss of hope that these people face because there is no way out for them. If they try to earn more money or work another job that conflicts with the “jobs” that the pimp wants her to do, there will be awful reprisals for her and her family.

Law enforcement only goes so far. People like the disgusting pimp in the last paragraph should be punished to the fullest extent of the law for daring to do something like that to another human being. No matter how he tries to justify it to himself, he is a nothing but a disgusting, abhorrent slaver.

Sex Trafficking Needs to be Punished

People like him should be punished, but there’s already a legal infrastructure for that. Money should be spent almost entirely on the victims themselves. They are the ones that need help. Sure, take the pimps off the street and penalize them as much as the law allows. But first and foremost, re-empower the native women who have been affected by these horrors. Get them back on their feet again. Give them the therapy they need. Give them real work that they can support their families with. Don’t spend it all on sting operations; these women need help, and they need it now.

When these women are freed from sex slavery but not given help, they are likely to go right back into the same system again. Once they are in, it’s the only way to survive. Giving trafficked women better jobs, better psychological help… That is what will solve the crisis. Take away their desperation; give protection. That is what government is for.

About Caleb Smith

Caleb is a freelance writer and music student from the United States, with a passion for comic books, reading, and punk rock. He loves writing about often overlooked and under-reported stories to help raise awareness.

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