Trata de personas en Canadá. Por Ghislane Cottle.
Human Trafficking in Canada
Human trafficking is a concept that many citizens of affluent countries are unfamiliar with or believe is an issue of less affluent countries. However human trafficking is a practice and issue that occurs all over Canada (Hennessy 2014). However when citizens of our community are being trafficked and treated poorly it affects everyone who is part of that community. We as Canadians should all therefore be concerned with this issue.
Human trafficking in Canada is defined as, “the recruitment, transportation, harboring and/ or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour” (Public Safety Canada). However international the definition adds, “by the threat or use of force, by abduction, fraud, deception, coercion or the abuse of power or by the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person” (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). This area of forced consent becomes problematic because it assumes in some circles that the victims put themselves in the position however this is not the case. While trafficking can happen to both men and women, in Canada it is more prevalent for women to be trafficked (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). Canadian Immigration policies have negative impacts on women thus making them more venerable or susceptible to trafficking (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001).
The People’s Law School (2010) created a toolkit that outlines hunan trafficking in Canada; this is a useful resource for understanding the law and answering many questions that the average citizen might have. After outlining what human trafficking is and its prevalence in Canada the toolkit explains who is trafficked as, those from mostly rural areas and drawn from the most vulnerable areas where often women and girls are targeted (The People’s Law School, 2010). Often those who are trafficked are in situations they cannot escape and may have been promised a job or citizenship to gain leverage (The People’s Law School, 2010). Trafficking is not exclusively sex work and does not always mean slave labour; it can mean over woking and being paid very little or other types of exploitation (The People’s Law School, 2010). In a general sense, human trafficking is a breach of human rights (The People’s Law School, 2010).
The toolkit then explains that human trafficking has increased in the last decade, due to certain push factors and pull factors (The People’s Law School, 2010). Push factors such as, “poverty, gender inequality, lack of opportunity and education, political unrest, and unemployment” and pull factors like, “globalization of the economy, the demand for cheap goods and services, and new communications technologies” (The People’s Law School, 2010). Traffickers can be part of a network or work independently (The People’s Law School, 2010). The toolkit gives information about international and Canadian laws on human trafficking as well as tips for the reader on what they can do (The People’s Law School, 2010). The main tip offered is to educate one’s self and others as well as come forward when there is threat or information about human trafficking going on (The People’s Law School, 2010). The toolkit is a helpful resources for those who are unsure about protocol and have questions about human trafficking, however it is not exhaustive and does not provide definitions that are applicable to everyones situation.
What the Canadian Government is Doing Currently
The Canadian government has a national strategy with several aims made clear such as,
Promote training for front-line service providers. Support and develop new human trafficking awareness campaigns within Canada. Provide assistance to communities to identify people and places most at risk. Distribute awareness materials at Canadian embassies and high commissions abroad. Strengthen Child Protection Systems within the Canadian International Development Agency’s programs targeting children and youth (Public Safety Canada, 2012).
However there are several flaws with the strategies and initiatives that the government put into practice (De Shalit, Heynen, & van der Meulen, 2014).
One of the main problems with the government programs is that they create an more hostile environment for those being trafficked by presenting assumptions and setting up barriers for individuals coming forward (De Shalit, Heynen, & van der Meulen, 2014). This is done through government funding being spent on awareness and information materials for trafficked individuals that victimize individuals, creating an image of them of helplessness (De Shalit, Heynen, & van der Meulen, 2014). The ideas that are promoted through this material supports the false idea that those who are trafficked cannot speak for them selves, are helpless, and are immigrants who came from a “worse” place therefore being trafficked is an improvement from where they came from (De Shalit, Heynen, & van der Meulen, 2014). This leaves them with no agency and initiates a lack of trust from all parties involved (De Shalit, Heynen, & van der Meulen, 2014). Another large problem with the trafficked being unwilling to come forward are those who are illegal or temporary immigrants having fear of being deported (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001).
The Canadian Immigration policies tend to contribute to the high number of women being trafficked as well (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). Two immigration programs or polices that Canada has in place create vulnerable situations for female immigrants (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). Those being, Live-In Caregiver Program and fiancé visas (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). These type of immigration documents are easier to obtain for women and thus allow them to enter the country where they are then trafficked and exploited in these situations (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). The visible issue is then that “These programs are designed such that they enforce women's reliance on others in order to preserve their immigration status” (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). Because of the socioeconomic disadvantage that women face in many emigrating countries it makes it harder to meet immigration criteria such as education, work experience, financial capital et cetera; forcing them to resort to programs like live-in care giving and fiancé visas which tend to be exploitative (Oxman-martinez, Martinez, & Hanley, 2001). These type of visas and other temporary visas that are typically uses by women, such as temporary work visa like “exotic dancer”, create a very dependent position for immigrant women (Macklin, 2003) This an area of Canadian immigration that is quite gendered and if examined and restructured could become a vital part to the national strategy to combat human trafficking that targets women.
Current Initiatives in Canada
From the information provided in scholarly articles there are no major social movements that have occurred in Canada against human trafficking however there are certain services. The are services from the federal government as well as NGO services that are available for trafficking victims to be able to come forward and seek support however there are often flaws with these services (Hanley, Oxman-Martinez, Lacroix, & Gal, 2006), similar to those mentioned above. These services are often used for conducting research and are what has provided much otherwise unknown data about volumes and traits of human trafficking in Canada among other information (Hanley, et al., 2006). While this is valuable research the main goal should be support and service for trafficking items.
Human trafficking is a huge issue in Canada to which many are ignorant. However, it is a grave breach of human rights that needs to be taken very seriously by not only the government but by the public as well.
De Shalit, A., Heynen, R., & van der Meulen, E. (2014). Human trafficking and media myths: Federal funding, communication strategies, and canadian anti-trafficking programs. Canadian Journal of Communication, 39(3), 385-412. Retrieved from
Hanley, J., Oxman-Martinez, J., Lacroix, M., & Gal, S. (2006). The "deserving" undocumented?: Government and community response to human trafficking as a labour phenomenon. Labour Capital and Society, 39(2), 78-103. Retrieved from